Just in case my last post transmitted the impression that it was all surgery and eating (neither of which are particularly fun activities where Hallie is concerned) around here, allow me to correct that post haste. We've also had our fair share of fun play dates and outings around here lately.
In addition to her regularly scheduled gym class, which Hallie loves (and which has given Hallie a sense of structure, circle time, cleaning up, etc as well as a lot of physical strength that is beginning to show---she is now getting more comfortable walking up stairs with support both from us and the banister and has learned to climb on the monkey bar structure that is giving her access to the long slide in the playground down the block and my heart is no longer always in my mouth when she attempts this feat), we've also been doing a bunch of other fun stuff.
First, two weekends ago we had a very nice playdate over at Elizabeth's house with Elizabeth and Eliza Grace. I got a couple of nice shots of two of our moving targets who did, actually, play a bit with one another.
Sadly, I did not get a picture of Elizabeth, yet again!
We also had a fun play date with Jake and Gina who came to visit us for dinner that same weekend. Jake is an amazing kid and the resemblance between him and Hallie are remarkable and more than just skin deep. Both kids are into numbers and letters and Jake is able to not only write his name but also a lot of other words. He is a beginning reader at the ripe old age of three and very, very clever (Hallie is showing signs in this direction, too. This morning she took out these sign language flash cards I bought way back when that we never actually used and not only focused on the pictures and signs but also on the letters, spelling out each word and pointing to them with her fingers in the way that an early reader would). Both Hallie and Jake are into puzzles and Jake acquainted us with these very cool multilayer puzzles (of course, I ran out--or surfed over--and bought one of an egg turning into a tadpole and then a frog that is now on its way to our house).
Like Hallie, Jake is also a sensory kid. Perversely, this makes us very happy (I am not sure it makes his mom so happy, though!) since it's clear that Jake is not only typically developing but a gifted little boy.
Jake also made me happy by eating seven (!!!) of my fish sticks. I hope that one day he serves as a model for Hallie in this respect.
Here's a lovely shot of all the kids and Gina:
And here's Jake playing dress up. Of all the options, he picked Miss USA. Silly boy!
We've also managed to get to the Please Touch Museum twice in the last week. On our first visit, which took place on a Saturday, it was enormously crowded, but Hallie mostly took things in stride and did not get overloaded or melt down (until we got to the carousel line, but even then pretty much did okay even with the fifteen minute wait).
As predicted, Hallie loved the room full of shoes (a pretend shoe store) and was particularly attracted to a pair of black patent leather tap shoes that were way too big for her. We almost had to do an intervention to get them back!
Here she is planting flowers in the flower garden:
Here she is oggling herself in the Alice in Wonderland exhibit:
And here she is looking like a giant in that same exhibit:
Honestly, I found the whole Alice in Wonderland thing just a bit freaky. Oddly enough, I've never been a big fan of the book (I also don't really like that other classic, Wizard of Oz, terribly much. I find both fairly frightening and always have).
Of course, Hallie was particularly interested in sensory experiences at the Please Touch. During our Saturday visit, she grooved on racing through and spending time in the section where they had what I think was a simulated rain storm using these plastic sheets cut into ribbons that hung down all around (kind of like the things that wash off the water at a car wash). She would have spent all day in there. The picture does not do justice either to the exhibit or Hallie's joy at spending time in it:
And speaking of sensory experiences, Hallie LOVED the water table area. She gleefully played with the ducks and water wheel toys and boats on both of our visits.
Of course, some of this play involved considerably rearranging.
Where do you think all of the ducks from the duck pond went?
Why, here they are!
And no sensory experience is complete without sticking one's hands into the hand dryer:
Hallie also had a lot of fun playing in the three-and-under indoor playground area and loved how fast she could go on the indoor slide:
(She also just mastered what I call the 'curly slide' at our local playground. Way back when, she had a bad flipping incident on one of these and we've been too chicken to have her try again. Piece of cake now)
And she loved jumping on the lily pads and even managed to get both feet off the ground roughly at the same time once or twice:
Hallie also had a great time in the arts and crafts room. She seemed to know exactly what to do in terms of painting at the easel (though to my knowledge she has no actual experience doing this). She picked up the brush like a pro, happily dipped it in paint and used the paper (rather than her body) as a canvas. She ended up having a marked preference for green, but the finished work of art is quite lovely and Hallie seems very proud of it:
And here's Hallie playing dress up with some wild stuff in that same room.
All in all, she had tons of fun at the Please Touch and we're hoping that we get to go back soon and that some of our friends, preemie and full-term alike, join us there!
Just one last note: we did, at last, manage to interview a single decent nanny candidate (out of a field of about a dozen, and many dozens of emails from others we did not bring in) and, thankfully, she accepted the position when we offered it to her. Our new nanny, who will start on the 16th, when Sharon needs to return to work, has some personal experience with feeding issues and aversions and kids on the spectrum; her nephew, who grew up with her, has both and so N. has an idea of what she is getting into here (which is always useful) and was even here for a feeding therapy appointment that exhibited Hallie's averse and sensory tendencies around food. We try to be up front about Hallie's issues without detracting from her excellent points, though it nearly always feels like we are making excuses for her ('she has all these needs, but she is the sweetest girl in the world' starts to ring hollow for me). Thankfully N. was not put off by this and seems up to the challenge. So at least that's off our plate.
Still on our plate: testing (for the 3-5 early intervention ("Intermediate Unit") placement); preschool visits (more on this in the next post); and fighting the system. Also on our plate: two batteries of tests--one administered by the Center for Autism and the other by the annoying agency that administers IU in Philadelphia County. Makes ear tubes seem like a walk in the park.
Whew...two posts down and one more to go, but no promises that I'll get to finish, or even start it, before the dawn of March.