How Old is Hallie?

Lilypie Fifth Birthday tickers

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Lilypie Second Birthday tickers

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Make That 103!!!!

Well, we've more than made our Labor Day goal of 100 days, so why not go for a bit more? (I feel a tiny bit like the overachieving Soviet Stakhanovites who over-fulfilled the plan about whom I shall be teaching in a few short days, but unlike the producers of bricks and steel in Stalinist Russia of the 1930s, we're actually investing in a one-of-a-kind genuine and above average and excellent little girl around here).

Hallie's had a great bunch of days, and had fun at Grammy's and with Aunt Laura and the kids this past weekend (two weekends in a row, soon to be three, as I toil away both in preparation for and on Labor Day once again this year). Hopefully Aunt Laura will take up the mantle of Guest Blogger soon! The little kids (her lovely cousins Hannah and Adam) tired her out, but not so much that she was unable to wake up this past morning at 6:00am and ask me to read to her. Sharon slept in until she needed to get to work, and Hallie and I had some quality time downstairs. She was in a great mood all day, fell asleep for our guest-nanny in the high chair at lunch, and went full steam ahead until 10:30pm tonight. Hopefully she'll stay asleep a bit longer tomorrow (or is that today?).

No pics tonight, but maybe Aunt Laura will post/send me some from Hal's time at the beach and pool soon!

That's all folks. This tired mama has got to get to bed!

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Princess Hallie's Magical 100 DAYS!!!!

We just hit a major milestone---100 vomit free days this year. Woo-hoo!!! Since August 22 is the 234th day of the year, that makes it nearly half a year so far that is vomit free. And today was also three days in a row where Hallie didn't have an incident, so we are beginning to feel like we are back on track.

The zyrtec, we think, is really working and Hallie sounds a heck of a lot clearer and is much more comfortable. She played in the playground for over an hour this morning, and then in the backyard at the sand-and-water table (seems to like the sand more than she used to now that she visited the beach) and had an overall great day. She got to see Baby Taylor (Aunt Renee's and Aunt Kim's little girl, who inherited Hallie's vast collection of clothing and has yet to wear the same onesie twice in her short life of two months) and hung out with Ethan, Karina, and Cole this evening. So our girl had lots of fun, played hard, and kept her food down.

There may be some drop-off in terms of her appetite now that we pulled the periactin, but it's fairly minimal and given Hallie's robust size, we're not too concerned. We're just happy that Hallie (who woke up this morning even more cheerful than usual) is having a nice time and feeling good and that we moms don't have to clean up more than the usual toddler mess (which now includes some fetching artwork rendered in washable markers on our walls each evening).

And, on top of all of this good news, I located our camera, so here are the lovely Princess Hallie photos that I promised:

Here she is holding out her foot for the glass slipper (or at least glass croc):

And here's a lovely closeup of Hallie's pretty little face:

Friday, August 22, 2008

Captain Underpants

I think it's safe to say that Hallie is pretty into 'dress up' these days. She loves to try on our shoes (and even socks....she had me help her put on Sharon's socks today and thought that walking around in them was just grand. I must say that they went very well with her princess outfit, courtesy of Cousin Hannah, though I still think that the highish-heeled princess shoes that match the outfit do look a tad bit better with it).

Anyway, she's always into trying new looks, and this has got to be one of our recent favorites:

Yes, those are little panties on her head. She really did enjoy wearing these around for a while before getting ready for bed!

So, to indulge her new passion, I decided to order her an orange and black tutu for Hallowe'en (she'll pair it with something spooky, or just a bit crazy, I'm sure!). She is totally in love with Hallowe'en and everything related to it (she often asks to wear her various pairs of Hallowe'en socks and, quite literally, every book related to Hallowe'en that she owns (four or five, I believe) are in shreds because she needs them to be read to her, and must chew, pull on and rip them as often as possible). So, given that Hallowe'en is kind of a year-round holiday in these here parts, I thought a nice tutu would go over quite well.

Indeed, it appears to have done just that:

But far be it for our kid to wear a tutu only in a conventional way. It serves just as well as a wig, or even more fetchingly, as a boa.

Quite the diva, our girl is!

(And, Hannah, I promise that there are pictures of Hallie in the princess dress....they just haven't made it onto my computer yet since a certain toddler I know appears to have hidden the camera again).

Speaking of which, Hallie has expressed a heightened interest in looking at herself in the mirror (was always fun, but is now even more fun) and in pictures on the camera and my computer. And, now, instead of calling herself "Hallie" she says "Had-dee" which is totally cute. She still doesn't answer the question 'What is your name?" but that'll come soon enough.

And otherwise Hallie's language is getting better and better all the time. Her articulation is much clearer, she is using many many more words, and she's much more interactive with everyone. We're pretty darned pleased. On top of this, she is practicing signing the alphabet (and not just saying the letter names out loud) and has begun to trace the shape of english language letters in the air. Finally, she also knows most of the alphabet in lower case. I suspect we'll find out that she knows even more than this once she can communicate with us more fully but suffice it to say: we're very impressed.

We're also impressed that she's doing a bunch better this week relative to the last couple. The allergist put her on a pretty hefty dose of zyrtec (5 ml/day) instead of the periactin and it seems to be helping. She may or may not have a cold on top of this---hard to tell still---but we've been giving her the flovent and atrovent twice a day just in case. We're still off of bananas and taking it generally slow with the feeding, but she's now up to 99 days vomit free this year, and we're hoping that 100 is just around the corner.

So, in the spirit of Hallie reaching new heights, I'll end this post with this picture of Hallie climbing onto the arm of her chair (no doubt so that she could get at something forbidden that we'd hidden away in the pack-and play).

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Seasonal Allergies????

Real quick update:

Sharon was talking to Laura (her sister, Hallie's aunt) yesterday about cousin Adam, who has a horrible case of the sniffles. They're keeping Adam away from Hallie in the meantime, just in case it's a cold, but in passing, Aunt Laura mentioned that Adam's issues were probably related to the recent onset of Ragweed season.

And that brings us to the following intriguing possibility: what food (among others) cross-reacts with Ragweed? Banana.

Fascinating. (I get a lot of this info from the fabulous boards over at POFAK---see link on the left if you have a food-allergic kid and are reading this and are not yet a member. The 25 dollar membership fee is TOTALLY worthwhile). Anyway, after doing a bit of research last night, I emailed our allergist at CHOP, who said that this would not surprise her in the least. Periactin, while a good appetitie stimulant (but one we're not sure is working) is not the best antihistamine out there. She'll email me back (I hope) with recommendations for a different drug or drugs (talk of some kind of nasal inhaler) and the appropriate dosage(s).

Before bed last night and upon waking, I began to think again about our past experiences with Hallie. We were pretty certain back in April/May of 2007 (when Hallie was still shy of one year old) that she was experiencing seasonal allergies, raised this with our pediatrician, and was told by him that this was not possible since she had never lived through an allergy season. Although I retorted that people---including us---probably brought pollen into the NICU on our clothing, this got me nowhere. Life was miserable from April/May until September/October (14 week cold, a couple of brief hospitalizations, a triple scope, failed attempts at antibiotics, three ear infections, then ear tubes). Things got much better when we pulled milk in November, and even better in December and January (when the kid lost weight but went two whole weeks without vomiting). Things remained fairly good unless Hallie was failing foods back in the winter and spring of this year, but there was a rough patch in January when there was unseasonably warm weather and hellishness again when things started growing in earnest in May. June was a bit better, with some rough patches related to her being out of doors and playing in fields (see our post about her vomiting in Olivia's grove, for example). And we were generally pretty okay in July but things got rough again in August, pretty much at the moment Ragweed season got underway here.

OK---so this is my sense of what's going on. The kid has food allergies to some significant things (positive on skin tests for egg, wheat, barley; unquestionable food reactions to cow milk, soy, buckwheat, and rice). She may or may not be allergic to peaches and blueberries (I'd guess not if I were a betting gal, and with Hallie as the subject, there's frankly too much risk involved!). Beef...who knows? But seasonal allergies...yeah, I think we've got those. So the question is what to do about them. Let's hope the allergist (who did after all email me at 7am on a Sunday morning) gets back to us soon. I suspect that we're going to put her on something stronger and my bet is that we end up with another allergy appointment (after allergy season ends, I hope!) that will involve us pulling Hallie off of antihistamines for a little bit and doing a few skin tests for seasonal stuff. I'm all for that. If we can figure out what's going on there, maybe we can figure out the food stuff. And down the road there are always allergy shots for the seasonal stuff should it become unbearable to her...

Alright, that's all for now. But I am relieved to once more be thinking that there are at least times of the year when our banana-loving kiddo can eat (bite small amounts off of) her beloved 'nanas'.

Saturday, August 16, 2008



Hallie has always loved bath tubs and they don't really need to involve water, either (though she's a big fan of that too). Whenever we get a new tub (which has sadly been all too often because the inflatable tubs spring leaks really easily and no one can ever find the tiny little included patch kits when they do), she has to check it out by getting inside it, lifting it and throwing it in the monstrous clawfoot tub (the big reason we have her in a toddler tub at this point to begin with), etc.

Well, the ducky was an emergency purchase for us by Aunt Vanessa when our last tub not only sprung a leak but refused to stay inflated beyond pancake status. It was too small for Hallie from the outset, but it sure beat not having a tub for our nightly baths. So this week we replaced it with a Primo Eurobath (which is a great tub, though Hallie hates it...she wants to be able to kick at will and push forward so that she can reach the faucet, the soap dish, and anything else that might not be nailed down. The Eurobathhas positioners to prevent the baby or toddler from slipping forward that get in Hallie's way and as all of us who know Hallie know quite well, we should NEVER get in our girl's way when she wants something).

Anyway, we've left the ducky tub in the bathroom this week (mostly out of laziness) and Hallie's had a blast playing in it. Lately, she's loved mirrors even more than usual (she always has liked them, and needs to check out new accessories she's wearing in a mirror or mirror-like object like the TV or dishwasher front). And her favorite thing to do when looking in the mirror is to say "Hallie" and point at herself. Sometimes Hallie sounds like Hallie and sometimes it sounds like "Haddie" but we definitely know that she can recognize herself.

And she can totally recognize these kids, too:

She may not be able to jump yet, but she sure as heck had a great time in the trampoline with the little cousins last weekend.

Ever since we got home, we've been checking out photos of the cousins this past week and Hallie loves saying "Ah---dam" and "Han-nah" and made us very happy since she pointed at a picture of Aunt Laura and said "Laura" as clear as day.

Right now she's headed back down to the shore to see the cousins and Grammy and Aunt Laura and Uncle Bryan. I need to go to DC for work tomorrow so I can't join them (but I can blog about Hallie to stave off my loneliness and how much I'm missing my girls).

Anyway, speaking about blogging, blogging helps a lot when you need to reconstruct a timetable around things. Sadly, the things around which we need to reconstruct timetables mostly seem to be food-related, and once more we are dealing with a mystery as to what is going on with Hallie. Truth be told, after a fabulous last couple of weeks in June and most of July, she's been having a hard time in August. After failing beef, having a hard time for ten days to two weeks after we pulled the beef, and then failing blueberries last week, we decided to suspend any food trials for a while. So we didn't add in anything this week, and still things are rough. The blueberry fail seemed unclear at best, but we decided to pull them in case they were what was leading to increased hiccups and then once-daily vomiting. Given that the reaction for blueberries seemed comparatively mild, we were pretty sure she'd clear up fast. Not so much. The vomiting has continued, and if anything seemed to all of us (Sharon, Me, and Ami) to be correlated to banana consumption. So we decided after much soul searching and great grief (especially since Hallie now points to bananas, and reaches for them when she sees them, and wants to eat them) to pull bananas on Thursday. Friday, sadly, was only a little better than Monday-Thursday had been (one of those days were vomit free, inching us ever so closer to the 100 day mark...we're now standing firm at 97 days that are spew free this year). She apparently retched and heaved for no reason, and then today, did the same thing. Now, on the face of it, today's vomit was related to her crying when I left the car (she hates it when I get out of the back seat to do an errand and crying often leads to spewing) but I think the problem goes deeper than this: she had been gagging on apples at both breakfast and lunch. This concerns me A LOT: is she suddenly developing problems with the few foods (was six, now five, perhaps headed to 4) that she used to tolerate? We are having trouble ensuring that she take in a balanced diet as it is and were pretty certain that 6 foods as a long-term kind of thing wasn't such a good idea, so 4 foods are even a worse bet where sound nutrition is concerned. Is she still healing from the problems she had with beef (this seems WAY too long ago) or is the problem bananas and needs to heal from taking in so many of those? And is this a banana allergy or intolerance (like, can she handle them in small quantities but not big ones)? Cell-mediated, non-IgE allergies are really sneaky and weird. We probably won't have most of these questions. And the older she gets, the more despondent I become about her growing out of this stuff. We have no idea how in the heck she keeps growing the way she does (what is in that goat milk formula, anyway?) but we are grateful that she does; now we just want to figure out what we can safely feed her so that she keeps more food in (we'd love 'all,' but will settle for 'more'). Hopefully we won't drive ourselves stark raving mad in our search to figure out this Hallie food puzzle. But if we do, I at least hope that we manage to help her in the process.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Little Drummer Girl

We are perhaps the only parents in the universe who are thrilled that our kid has a drumset. But when your kid has spent a lot of time in silence and has a paralyzed vocal cord, you do get kind of a thrill when you hear her make big noise.

Thank you Aunties Neystice and Kim for the lovely birthday present. Hallie loves it (and for some unknown reason is particularly fond of carrying around the snare's 'stand'. We'd love to know why, but this, like many things toddler, is a big, huge mystery to us).

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Friday Photos

These are just the ones we took earlier this week, but I figured that if I didn't upload them now, I never would.

Owing to the lighting and the water and such, most of the aquarium pictures came out 'artsy' but quite wobbly-looking. These were the best of the school:

Notice how Hallie is just as interested in the face painting on the nearby toddler as she is in the fish swimming around in the tank.

I do think that the aquarium did make an impression on our girl as she has been signing 'fish' (and saying FISHEEEEEE) furiously all weak during Dorothy-related segments on Sesame Street. She's also been obsessed with playing the Elmo world rhyming game on my computer (at PBSKIDS.ORG) and saying "Dorothy" (or her approximation thereof) over and over. Not that she really plays the game...she has yet to figure out the trackpad on my MacBook and just pounds its poor (and quickly disintegrating keys) furiously.

In the next pics, you see her eating a banana.

She ate perhaps another 1/16th of one again today. She does pretty well with it, but just doesn't eat much in any conventional sense of the word 'eat.' She prefers to slurp down her purees rather than chew solids. We're hoping the chewing of solids is a skill that kicks in at some point. She can do it...I just fear that she has little practice and is a bit lazy.

We're still not sure what to make of the blueberries. I gave her perhaps an ounce of blueberry/apple puree at lunch today, and she 'urped' (not a real vomit, just a few mouthfuls) after her nap today. "Nap" should be qualified here: she was down perhaps 45 minutes total. I am not sure if she woke up because she had a tummy ache (I do wish she could tell me) or if the phone ringing downstairs (it was a pesky robocall) disturbed her sleep. But it was a bit disheartening to watch her first get the hiccups (always a sign of reflux), then watch her reflux into her mouth, then watch it come up. She was on the stairs at the time and I grabbed the closest vessel (the kitchen sink of her play kitchen) but caught perhaps a third of the mess. It's clear her reflux is acting up (she's had the hiccups a bunch over the past few days) and that she is constipated, but it's not totally clear that this is an allergic reaction. I think we'll give the blueberries one more day and if we have a repeat performance (4/5 of the past days have been vomit-full days...just once a day, but still more than is typical of Hallie when she's not reacting to food), we'll pull the berries and maybe try them again in a few months. It's hard to believe that we've hit upon the only 6 foods this kid can handle, but that's the way it seems right now.

We're not sure where to go next in our food trials. I think we'll take a few weeks off to maybe get her over the teething we suspect she is doing (that always provokes a reflux flare) and to give the two people who will be filling in for Ami while she's on tour in Texas (she's a nanny by day and a musician by night) a bit of a break. Ami also needs a break (I hope she gets one in Texas!) and, like us, is disheartened by our latest bout of vomiting (it's been two- three weeks now that we are stuck in this cycle). And, like us, she pushes through because what else can we do? I suspect that Hallie feels the same way, but she just can't really articulate this to us at this stage of the game.

Anyway, off to bed since it's plenty late. Ami watched Hallie tonight while Sharon and I went to a Phillies game (we lost in extra innings...deeply tragic but alas it is the end of the summer and we need to head into a downswing if, as usual, the home team is to give up its first place position and manage to do in an otherwise stellar season). I think this is the final date night of the summer (very very tragic). The two of us have gotten used to hanging out again, but we're soon going back to the traditional schedule where we only have Ami while I am at work (AAAAAGGGGGHHH....I HATE THE END OF SUMMER). Sadly, while our budget sort of accommodates a nanny (do we have any other choice for our former micropreemie who has massive food allergies and doesn't eat in an age appropriate manner? Not really. We're just lucky we're able to afford to do this rather than send her to daycare), our budget doesn't really allow us the extra hours during the school year for babysitting at night on top of Ami's normal schedule. So we'll be looking forward to winter break for our next date. Hopefully Sharon will be in good health, big with child, and not on bedrest. Dates on bedrest are not precisely what we have in mind for December! But heck, that's a lot better than some of the alternatives we can think of and which we prefer not to mention!

Friday, August 8, 2008

Bad Mama

OK---I'll admit it. I am too lazy/too tired to upload some cute pictures of my kid eating 1/32 or perhaps 1/64 of a banana voluntarily. I am likewise too lazy to upload pictures of her at her first-ever aquarium visit this past Saturday (apparently, one of the few things worth visiting in Camden, NJ, where we proceeded to get lost in some pretty dodgy neighborhoods). (Note to others: even if your kid has a thing for Dorothy-the-goldfish on Sesame Street, if they are young-acting preemies, 2 may be a bit too young for them to be absolutely riveted by sharks. However, that does not mean that they won't be absolutely riveted by the face paintings worn by other kids slightly older than themselves whom they nonetheless call 'babies.').

Anyway, I am battling my laziness and fatigue and trying to produce a coherent update here, so bear with me!

Hallie has had an okay week. We're not sure that she's okay with the blueberries that we are food-challenging, but we're pushing forth nonetheless since it seems sad to be allergic to such an innocuous fruit and her vomiting of late may not really be related to this antioxidant rich bush grower. It's kind of too soon to tell, but she has had one good day out of the past four, and the three bad days were none too bad (no congestion, just weird and hard to explain vomits at various points). So we've hit 94 vomit-free days and we're hoping for 100 by Labor Day. Seems reasonable. Otherwise: she's been eating bits of banana, huge amounts of chevre-mixed-with-goat yogurt and...drumroll please...chunks of solid prunes (dried plums). Her dinner often begins with a Hallie-approved 'trail mix' (as Sharon termed it): chunks of prunes, strips of goat mozzarella and gerber baby dried apple pieces. It almost seems like it's approximating standard toddler fare, even if the assortment is a bit odd.

Otherwise, she's also doing great. We've confirmed that she can, indeed, count to 15 (I am trying to get her to internalize 16-20 now) and she's been talking up a storm. Her EI speech therapist (Jenny) was pleasantly floored by Hallie's major speech spurt this past month, and, after some initial shyness (Hallie will absolutely clam up when she is around new people, and Jenny has been away nearly a month), Hallie showed off all of her new skills to Jenny. Had I not forewarned Jenny of this spurt, I think she might have cried (as she did when Hallie finally signed 'book' correctly). Anyway, it was gratifying to hear it from a pro that Hallie's made a great deal of progress this month (even though we already knew this about her).

Not much else going around here. I do promise to try to get some pictures up soon!

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Hallie Haberdashery

Lately, Hallie's been into hats. Not just regular hats (she is especially fond of putting on Sharon's Grover baseball cap backwards), but special hats, like pots, and pails, and occasionally swim diapers. While we're not holding out much hope for her wanting to wear hats once the weather turns cold and nasty again, we do think it's awfully cute. She's also all about wearing her bicycle helmet (and has remarked to us that her favorite Sesame Street characters always have theirs on when engaging in wheeled sports), but unfortunately, she prefers to wear the strap around her neck and the helmet part draped behind her, cowboy hat style. We're not so into this and often have to chase her down to save her from a choking hazard in the making.

The other thing that Hallie has been into a lot lately are her animals. I bought her a set of animal magnets the other day and her favorite by far is the "raff", which is her word for giraffe. I am guessing that she takes after Aunt Laura who adores giraffes, too.

And speaking of adore, yesterday morning we were lolling around with Hallie in the living room when Hallie walked up to Sharon and said "Mommy, love you!!!". That was the sweetest thing ever. She's been saying "love you" for a while now, but only doing it prompted, either when we say or sign it. That time it was totally spontaneous and it made Sharon's heart melt.

Finally, the other thing we learned about Hallie this week is that she can count to 15. Ami has been counting with her constantly, and so have we, and so have Sesame Street and Rachel Coleman. And one of Hallie's favorite things to do is to count as she comes down the stairs from the second floor to the first. Not coincidentally, there just so happen to be fifteen of them.

Overall, Hallie had a pretty nice week. She was reacting to something on Monday and Tuesday (we think one of the foods that seemed safe for her was cross contaminated---my vote is for the pear butter, which should have contained only pears and pear juice but is made on the same lines as a lot of other products that are not safe or for the goat ricotta since the same creamery makes several flavored varieties of the cheese that would not work for Hallie). But by Wednesday, she was feeling much improved and Thursday and Friday were great days. So 92 days vomit free so far, and hopefully still counting!