How Old is Hallie?

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Lilypie Second Birthday tickers

Friday, October 31, 2008

Visiting with Jake and Friends, Take 2

Last weekend, Sharon, Hallie and I headed to Central NJ for what is probably going to be our final longer car trip (defined as anything over an hour) this pregnancy to visit Jake, his mom, and friends. The original plan involved a pumpkin patch, a hay ride, and fun outdoor seasonal stuff, but the weather conspired against us (putting it mildly; there were moments when the drive was harrowing because it was raining so hard. Good thing that our car handles so well (it's a Hyundai Tucson Crossover All-Wheel Drive SUV. When it was new--sadly not long ago--it was pretty spiffy but now that it contains a huge toddler mess, a duck bath tub that for some reason never makes it out of the rear in spite of the fact that there is no reason anyone can think of why we might need it for a drive to, say, Whole Foods market, and---oh yes, this is my favorite decor item---VOMIT on the CEILING (I guess that's what you call it) of the car, it kind of functions as a metaphor of what our life looks like more generally).

Anyway, I digress. We decided to go to one of those toddler indoor play gyms (kind of a mix between a children's museum, with 'shopping' and dress up opportunities and an upscale and much saner if only moderately less noisy version of Chuck-E-Cheese) instead. Hallie had a blast.

Hallie made a beeline for the grocery store. Do you think this has anything to do with how much time we spend in Whole Foods?

She categorized, weighed and named her fruits and veggies. And she also practiced a bit of shop-lifting. We discovered after we left the place that she walked off with their only bunch of grapes (with which she was fascinated the entire time she was there). If you look carefully at this shot, you'll notice her holding them.

She also had a great time sitting in the ride-on vehicles that vibrate when you feed them with tokens:

Indeed, she had such a good time in these that she wasn't quite willing to share them with others, and when Morgan wanted a turn, Hallie insisted on climbing in and sitting on top of her.

I think Morgan was a lot more comfortable, and the girls were much happier generally, when they tried it the other way around:

The kids all did a whole lot of climbing and sliding. Hallie mostly stuck to the toddler climb-and-slide area, but Jake did a lot of big boy climbing on the much bigger play structure. Here's a nice shot (among many many other shots where one kid is splayed out at the bottom of the slide while the others are at the top, looking away from the camera) of the kids at the top of the slide.

And here's a cool shot of Jake peeking out at the top of a HUGE tunnel:

Hallie, like any typically narcissistic two year old, also had a great time checking out her multiple reflections in the mirrors set up in the toddler section. Clearly, she was fascinated by what she saw:

We were there for a few hours, and Hallie had not slept at all on the drive, either (instead, she screeched "Ernie", "Elmo", and "Cookie" endlessly to the loop of Sesame Songs ("Rubber Ducky", "Theme to Elmo's World," and "C is for Cookie") that played on the car stereo, much to our chagrin). So I wasn't surprised that Hallie began to unravel a bit around 4pm and really needed to get out of the play gym and into her car seat. This is what she looked like about three minutes after I buckled her in (note the grapes, still firmly within her grasp):

Of course, that nap lasted all of half an hour; Hallie woke up as soon as Sharon got in the car and stayed that way for the rest of the afternoon and evening, when we returned to Jake and Gina's house for more fun playing and to celebrate the birthday of one of Gina's friends. (Gina has some great pictures of Hallie and Jake carousing which I'll post when I get them). And, to top it all off, she stayed awake for the entire drive home (once more screaming the names of her favorite Sesame characters). Needless to say, by the time we got her in bed at close to 10:00pm, Hallie was totally exhausted. She slept VERY late on Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday. No doubt she'll be up at the crack of dawn, though, today (which is just about now). So I should really finish up this post so I am ready to race after my kiddo...

For those of you who might want to compare Hallie and Jake to the donor, I have been meaning to post the (only) picture of Donor 1876 that we have--it appears to be an early school (kindergarten?) picture:

But just a few brief notes about other stuff before I go. First, it's been a banner speech week. Hallie has really mastered the single three-word-sentence structure on which we've been working (seemingly forever) in speech therapy. This is a useful sentence: "I WANT ----". Hallie's delivery is still a bit halting, but she totally gets it. Now, of course, this poses a bit of a dilemma, because she is always asking for what she wants, and we like to reward her speech attempts, but some of her requests definitely warrant a "no." (She hasn't asked for a sharp knife by name yet, but she has asked for Sharon's iced tea, my diet coke, our food....though lord knows what she'd do with the last one of these). Still, we're quite proud of her, even if we do need to figure out a way of teaching her that she cannot always have what she wants. Her speech really has gotten so much better lately (and with it, her signing---she signs along with speech, which is very helpful because about 25% of the time we have no idea what it is that she wants, which often leads to an episode of angry-and-frustrated-toddler-stomping).

On the eating front: we're still where we were, but at least I have a plan for the beef trial. I think we'll see if she can manage shredded up slices of roast beef, and if that doesn't work, we'll puree them. She is now up to 142 vomit free days, which is super.

And, there's still time to weigh-in on the new baby's name. Sharon and I really appreciate all of the input we've received so far (but are no closer to naming this one), so name away. Once we figure out what the little one's name will be, we will be sure to let everyone scroll down to the post below and add your suggestions!)

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Name That Baby!

OK--the moment all you readers have been waiting for...the opportunity to submit your favorite name for our Great Expectation.

Sharon is 25 and a half weeks pregnant, and we have no idea what the new little one (who will hopefully not be here for another 12-14 weeks or so) will be called. Last time around in that we were able to finalize the girls' names by about 21 weeks or so, but this time, no sudden inspiration has hit us, and so we are still calling her 'the baby who has no name.'

What we do know about her is that she is running great, size-wise. At the anatomy scan on Monday (25 weeks, 2 days), the baby was about 799 grams (1 lb. 10 ounces), and was just about true-to-her-gestational-age in all ways, except that her humerus is really long (she's going to have monkey arms like Hallie and consequently, like her big sister, will be grabbing at stuff on the table that she shouldn't have. Great.)

Sharon's cervix has also been virtually unchanged over the past 6 weeks, and is about 33 mm long, and there's no funneling, no contractions, no nothing. We hope this remains the case for a long period to come, but meanwhile are quite grateful that things are going as smoothly as they are and for every passing day. Of course, we are still very much aware that we are in that window where an extra 24 hours of stability counts and will be for some time.

OK--so back to naming. What are the parameters? First, it has to go with "Eble-Schrader," which is the baby's rather long last name. Second, it should not "match" Hallie's -- in other words, we're not looking for "Callie" and "Sallie" and "Molly" and "Milly" and the like. I already accidentally call Hallie "Bailey" (our old dog's name) and we don't want to add to the confusion! Third, it cannot be Sarah, Megan, or Hannah since these are Hallie's cousins' names. (Funny aside: Hallie's cousin Hannah recently voted for the name Emma, loudly declaiming that "I love the name Enema!" I think Emma is a lovely name, although quite common, but I'm pretty sure "Enema" is out!)

Otherwise, the field is wide open (part of the problem). We both like classic names and ones that are SLIGHTLY off-beat. Gender-neutral names are fine, though we haven't found one we love. We don't particularly want the new baby to have the same name as every other kid on the block, so we've got a slight bias against the top ten (obviously, we're flexible about this: Olivia was number two when we chose it and that didn't stop us last time). Anyway, that's pretty much it. So let us know what you think, and give us a middle name if you have one, too, since we have none of those either!

I can't wait to see what you come up, like they say in Chicago, vote early and vote often.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Go Phillies!

Just one more game and we'll be parading around here.

Meanwhile, Hallie is getting into the spirit of things.

A more substantive post about our latest visit with Jake and his mom and her awesome friends and Hallie's amazing speech developments of the week, but meanwhile, gotta gear up for the game.

Go Phillies!\

Friday, October 24, 2008

A Mostly Picture Post

I still haven't located my original iPhoto disks and, particularly with what's happening in the economy (which is being mirrored by what is happening in our 401Ks), I'm reluctant to buy the new version right now and haven't had time to do a really thorough search for some freeware that will do the trick. But I can't not post pictures on the blog until I sort this out, so I'm going to try to get some up here so that we have some pictorial chronicle of Hallie's life for the past month!


Hallie loves her glasses and seems to appreciate whacky fashion in the same way that most toddler do...

And there is simply nothing better than laying back in a plastic tupperware and cracking open a nice cold one:

A Visit to the Howell Living History Farm with Eliza Grace and Elisabeth:

Here's a nice picture of Anne, holding Eliza, who--like most other 2 year olds--is looking away from the camera when we asked her to look toward it.

Decorating Pumpkins and Cavorting at Franklin Square with Hannah and Adam:

Here's a nice one of Hannah and Adam:

Hallie took her first solo carousel ride:

Visiting the Zoo with Alex.

Here Hallie is acquainting herself with goats, who are our favorite animals these days (and have been for nearly a year now).

Hallie loved sitting in this tractor and wouldn't get down for a very long time:

Apparently there's a horse theme here...I personally think that Sharon is grooming Hallie to be a horse lover like herself (...and don't blame me if our kid follows in your footsteps and comes home from high school one day telling us that she's devised this scheme for buying herself a horse! Actually, that would be very wonderful, though a goat might be a better choice given that we do have a backyard that needs a bit of grooming and we sure as heck could use a cheap source of goat milk).


In other news, I am in the process of losing count of how many spew-free days we've had this year. I think it's 137 at this point, but the big deal here is that there have been so many in a row that it is possible to lose count. Caveat: We do think that a daily diet of too many apricots is increasing Hallie's reflux and discomfort though, so, even though she isn't vomiting, we've decided to try her on apricots only every other day to see if this helps. We suspect she did the same thing with peaches (could eat a little, but not a lot of them). Still, what this signals is that maybe there is hope that she can handle small amounts of some foods without totally getting her system out of whack.

And Sharon is still happily pregnant. We compute things a day off of the ticker (above) but we are closing in on 25 weeks. Our next big goal: getting Sharon into the 3rd trimester.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

24 Weeks and Counting

Still no pictures (I actually just uploaded about a hundred new photos to my now-back-from-the-lovely-computer-tech-support-folks MacBook but, much to my chagrin, my iPhoto program has been disappeared in the process. The good news is that the machine is working correctly and I got a system upgrade from Panther to Leopard in the process but now have to make a decision about uploading the old iLife suite I bought a couple of years ago [once I find the disks] or upgrading to the new suite or finding another program that runs on a Mac altogether). Anyway, it's too late at night for such tasks, but I didn't want to fail to post today.

Today Sharon reached 24 weeks. We're now, technically speaking, at 24 and 1 day. And counting. We're still at that point in the pregnancy where every day counts, but meanwhile we are counting our blessings about reaching this far with the new baby. Sharon is enjoying every kick and punch (and she does seem to kick and punch a lot, but mostly at night when Sharon is trying in vain to sleep. Daytime and the kid naps. Great. This may be a harbinger of things to come).

And, as if she's in cahoots with her little sister, Hallie has been prepping us mightily for this task of all-night-marathon-sessions for much of this week. Hallie came down with a fever on Tuesday (was probably getting sick as early as Sunday, when she began to exhibit a pronounced lack of desire even for her favorite foods and she began what we think of as the great eating and drinking strike of October 2008) and was pretty sick on Wednesday and Thursday. What we thought might be either strep throat or a urinary tract infection (they check a baby's urine by taping a plastic bag around the kid's middle and waiting for him or her to pee. Hallie greeted this particular indignity with a bout of vomiting on the nurse practitioner. You gotta hand it to her: even if she does not speak much she does make her opinion well known). Both tests came back negative, so it was probably just a case of pharyngitis or mild tonsillitis (her tonsils were inflamed and had some pus around them). Anyway, she was utterly miserable for most of the week and has been consistently waking up from naps and sleep and crying uncontrollably. None of the usual tricks to stop this crying have worked at all, and no amount of holding, rocking, singing, mentioning of Elmo and Ernie, book reading, or anything else we like to do around here made her feel any better. While we were able to get at least 10 ounces of fluid in her every day, Hallie seemed particularly averse to taking her bottle and her consumption of super charged goat milk -- on Wednesday she had 1 ounce, on Thursday, 4 ounces, and Friday, 7 ounces. Today she managed to take in 15 ounces and we did a few happy dances over that. Her normal quantity is closer to 20, plus a bunch of food. So clearly things have not been going too well. But we are hopeful that things are getting better and that our normal well-adjusted, much less whiny kid is on her way back into our lives.

The truly surprising thing is that, throughout all of this, there has been very little vomiting, so we are actually at 131 vomit free days of the year (presuming she does not choose to vomit if she wakes up in tears again tonight). We are grateful for this, and probably even more grateful for the fact that Hallie's lungs remained clear during this illness and that it wasn't worse than it was.

OK--once I figure out the picture program thing, I do promise to upload tons of pictures! Stay really should happen some time this week and that post is going to be a doozy because there is a lot of picture ground to cover.

Monday, October 13, 2008

D-O-G Spells "Dog"

I'm busy watching the final inning (I hope, and in a good way) of Game 4 of the National League Championship Series and my beloved Phillies are ahead, miraculously, of the Dodgers. I hope they still are at the end of this inning! Anyway, just a brief note so I don't forget to blog this later on:

Yesterday (Sunday 10.12.08) Hallie read her first word: Dog. I think she learned this from an episode of Sesame Street, but she clearly knows how to recognize it (we've tried this several times, with no pictorial or other kind of prompts) and she gets it every time. So our kid only can read one thing so far, but at 2 years adjusted, and a mere 28 months actual, our micropreemie is reading. Very very cool.

In other news, we're now at 127 days and counting and Sharon is at 23 weeks 2 days and counting. More importantly, at her OB visit today her cervix was closed and no concerns raised themselves otherwise, either. We are very hopeful that we'll break our record of 23 weeks 4 days on Wednesday and hopefully go a lot longer than that.

OK--back to the game!

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Closing in On Our Goal

This is going to be a brief one (for me!) and it's picture free. It's not that we don't have excellent pictures of Hallie from our visit to the Howell Living History Farm in NJ last weekend, where Hallie got to meet all of her favorite animals (she referred to them--horses, sheep, cows, and pigs--by name and made all the appropriate animal sounds, a sort of specialty of hers right now) and where she got to hang out with fellow micropreemies Eliza Grace and Elizabeth. We do. Plus we have some cute pics of Hallie in her Phillies cap (she loves wearing baseball hats backwards, and of course, showing tons of spirit for her hometown team, who at times this week have displaced her beloved Rachel Coleman). Sadly, however, I've been having some major computer problems so it's kind of miraculous that I am getting this post out at all. Not to mention the conference paper that I am furiously attempting to write. I am hopeful that the whiz-bang tech folks at my college will be able to fix the software problem (at least it's only that; two years ago I had two fatal hard drive crashes in the span of one month on two separate laptops) and I'll be back to having a hard drive directory that I can access, enough space to upload pictures of my kiddo, and less concern about whether I'll be able to conduct more or less high-tech lectures in the classroom.

Anyway, I digress. Computer troubles (and writer's block) aside, it's been a nice week here. As the title of this post suggests, it's also been fairly free of vomit (just one run in with a tooth brush and another, at Howell farm, related to startling by a steam engine whistle. Gotta love the sensory stuff, don'tcha?) We're now at day 126 without spew for the year, which is pretty darned momentous. And we're at this point in the middle of another food trial.

Before you think that Hallie has a new protein source, allow me to disabuse readers of the notion that our kid is eating black beans. The great black bean experience lasted all of two spoonfuls. Last Saturday, Sharon attempted to feed Hallie some of them pureed for lunch and Hallie's response was something akin to that which you might expect if you suddenly discovered you had eaten a bite of pureed worms. Hallie made a horrible face and proceeded to bat at her tongue with her hands to remove the offending substance. Thinking that this was just related to being startled by a new taste and that Hallie might have mistaken the beans for her beloved prunes (which they taste nothing like), Sharon tried again and the beans (and Hallie's tongue) received the same treatment. Only one course seemed reasonable: Abort mission. No reason to serve our kid something she clearly finds disgusting, regardless of whether she might tolerate them.

So we moved on to apricots, which are a big hit with Hallie and which appear to not be taxing her fragile GI system in the least. We're on the fourth day of the trial with no visible increase in reflux. Indeed, other than the aforementioned run in with her toothbrush, she's even managed to keep everything down after a good sob (she somehow managed to hurt her lip with a toy upon which she should not have been sucking; stub her toe; and trip in a debris field of blocks all under my watch today, but nothing came back up, despite some pretty active crying. Turns the negligent mom into a comforting hero very quickly, I tell you).

The nice thing about apricots, other than the fact that it means we have all of six foods instead of five, is that, like prunes, you can boil them and fork mash them very easily to a nice gummy consistency and, apparently, all that gnawing on toys and books and such has taught Hallie to handle this texture. So, ever so slowly, we're actually moving a bit beyond her diet of stage 2 baby food plus french fries and potato sticks. We began this regimen of feeding Hallie something challenging at every meal on Tuesday, and so far, so good. And the nice thing (unless you do her laundry) is that Hallie is kind of sort of beginning to feed herself (and the floor, wall, whatever outfit she is wearing, etc) and the stuff we're making is thick enough to mostly stick to the spoon (as opposed to being flung off it easily, as is the case with stage 2s). So, maybe we'll actually get to age appropriate eating at some point, and maybe we won't have stacks and stacks of baby food on our kitchen counter at some point. And maybe our kid will be able to cry like most other kids without vomiting at some point.

If apricots are a 'go', perhaps we'll try grapes next. Hallie can sign and say the word, which is convenient (she now asks for french fries, sticks--has been doing this for a while, and prunes by name--this last one shocked us) and it would give us raisins. I know we should try for another protein, but given that fruit works best for our girl, why not get some more variety for her, too?

Other than eating, Hallie is doing well, too. She's really into building with her blocks these days (she has a decided penchant for symmetry, in terms of structural layout and color) and was thrilled to reacquaint herself with the bristle blocks we bought her a year ago. She is also a lot more social during our outings to the playground and likes to go up to kids and say "hi" (she has a very goofy way of saying this that is hard to replicate in a blog post) and is much more chatty in general. She's been talking to herself a lot, telling us things that are fairly jargony (they may be words but we have trouble understanding them. About 75% of Hallie's single word utterances are very clear to us, but the clarity decreases markedly once she strings more than two together). She's also been saying "I want ..x..." for Jenny (her speech therapist) and Jenine (her OT) quite willingly, and with some prompting, for us. We'll get there on the speech thing, so I am not too concerned about her not being completely caught up at this point. She easily has several hundred words (perhaps more) and also signs them when she's learned the sign. She gets that speech is all about communicating, so it's just a matter of time on this front.

Speaking of time, Sharon is now officially 23 weeks and 0 days. This is the gestational day when Vanessa and I accompanied her to what we thought would be a one hour visit to Labor Triage last time around, so hitting this point and not yet having contractions (thank goodness) is a very big deal to us. Sharon sees the OB for a standard checkup on Monday (23 weeks 2 days) and the peri for what will likely be her last cervical length assessment during week 25 (just writing that sends chills down my spine; I know that 25 weeks is not nearly enough weeks--we have many friends who are parents of 25 weekers and that is still a very dangerous place even from the vantage point of parents of 23 weekers). Sharon's cervix was shortening, but still at an acceptable level, even at 20 weeks, so we were concerned about things last week when she went in to the peri for her bi-weekly assessment. No further shortening at that point (she was holding steady at 35 mm; the dangerous point is 25 mm and 15 mm is quite bad). The really nice thing is that Sharon is hardly showing at all right now to the more-than-naked-eye (I have no idea how to better express this). She is certainly in maternity pants and has a pregnant belly, but there is no comparison to where she was at when she was at this stage with the girls. We're still quite cautious, but are increasingly hopeful that we will make it beyond the point of viability (24 weeks) with the not-to-soon-to-be baby.

Alright, this was a lot longer than I figured it would be, so I will end things here. Hopefully the computer's hard drive will be up and running by midweek and I'll post some pictures then.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Adjusting (Happy Second Adjusted Birthday!)

Today is Hallie's and Olivia's should-have been second birthday. It's amazing, and a bit frightening to me, how quickly time flies. Didn't we just celebrate their actual second birthday? And can it really be four months since Hallie started talking, nearly a year since she started walking, and just shy of two years since she came home from the NICU?

October is always an emotional month around here, and it always creeps up on us. The overtly traumatic nature of June, when Sharon went into labor with the girls at 23 weeks even and had them four days later, eclipses that more subtle sorrow of October. The joy of celebrating Hallie's actual birthday--for she has unexpectedly come so far and so single-handedly demonstrates the adage that statistics have no bearing on the individual case--to some extent tempers the bittersweet nature of June, which is indelibly tainted by the sheer horror--for there is no other word--of our twins' birth and the awful roller coaster ride that ensued and the loss of our sweet Olivia Skye. We sort of forget about October all summer long, and then here it is: the day that the girls should have been born, the day that would have likely signified their auspicious start in life. Way back when, two plus years ago now, our goal was for Sharon to give birth no earlier than Labor Day. We figured that twins would come sooner than would a singleton and that 36 weeks would be term enough for them. So we were planning on an early September birth and anything after that would be icing on the cake, so to speak. Not in our wildest nightmares did we consider that the Fourth of July would look like an acceptable vantage point from where we found ourselves just over two years ago.

October does have its up sides, though. Hallie came home a week after her due date, on the 10th of October, and though she had tubes and monitor leads attached to her and though she was so small--she looked like a giant to us, but very frail to the rest of the universe; our excellent pediatrician recently admitted to us that he was quite overwhelmed by her size when he first met her--we knew that she was going to make it once she was discharged from the ICN and into our arms. And October is, in a lot of ways, Hallie's favorite month because it ends with Hallowe'en, which is apparently her favorite holiday.

We are hoping that October is a quiet month around here this year; we are almost certain that the drama of last October, when Hallie could keep almost no food down and when we were slowly losing our minds from this and from the sleep feeding that Sharon did in order to keep our girl growing, will not be repeated this year. We've learned so much about how Hallie's system works over the past year and this empirical knowledge serves us well. Our little girl is a heck of a lot happier this year than last, something that struck me quite vividly as she and I cuddled before her bedtime bottle just a bit ago. Her color is better, her mood is vastly improved, and she is developmentally a very different kid than she was on her first corrected birthday. This by no means implies that we accept that ridiculous notion that preemies are "caught up" by age 2. We still see differences between Hallie and her full-term peers, and we're still quite vigilant about making sure that she has all of the resources in the world available to her, particularly where speech and language communication are concerned. But all in all, we know we are blessed and we know we are lucky. And, for the first time in a long time, after the nice stretch of pretty smooth sailing we've experienced over the past month or two, we're feeling optimistic that we can get this food allergy thing under control and keep ahead of it.

We are also hopeful, in a guarded way, that this pregnancy will at least outlast the previous one for Sharon. Sharon will be 22 weeks tomorrow, and we're on high alert for any problems, but things have been pretty good for the past couple of weeks. We're taking it one day and one week at a time right now, and are breaking our long range goal (a full term baby) into more manageable interim milestones (like it would be nice to reach the traditional milestone for viability, which is 24 weeks, this time around, and then we'll set our sights on having a third trimester).

And finally, we are grateful, on this adjusted birthday for the things that parenting Hallie has brought to us. We've not only learned a whole heck of a lot more about the worlds of science and medicine--things that I suppose are useful, though I wouldn't have minded not knowing them--but parenting Hallie has made us better parents. We are more patient, thoughtful, and forgiving people and I think that Hallie has also taught us a lot more than we would have ever otherwise learned about not just paying lip service to accepting difference and such (for better or worse, depending on your perspective, Sharon and I are educated East Coast liberals and so the language of tolerating difference is something with which we've both grown up, more or less). Parenting Hallie has made this into a lived experience for us, and that is an unmitigated good thing. We would have raised her to be a nice kid (we hope!) and most certainly would have taught her that everyone out there is equal, regardless of their visible or invisible disabilities and differences, but I am not actually sure that we would have come into as much close and personal contact with people with disabilities and translated the abstract construct of 'accepting difference' into something that she--and we--actually live. I was just saying to Sharon tonight that, had it not been for Hallie and our concerns about her speech and language development, we would have probably been just like every one of our other friends: we would have talked about, and perhaps even taken, a Baby Signing class or two, and perhaps bought a book or two about sign, but we'd never have embarked on teaching our child--or ourselves--American Sign Language or made signing part of our daily lives. And this 'accepting difference' business is not just about accepting those who are differently abled, either; parenting Hallie has brought me into a world where I am in very constant contact and interaction with many parents whose worldviews--religious, political, spiritual, geographic, what have you--are vastly different from my own. Getting outside of my own comfortable cocoon of accepted beliefs is a good thing; I have learned to appreciate all sorts of differences -- and not just tolerate them -- as a result of being Hallie's mama. The circumstances of Hallie's and Olivia's birth still remain traumatic and awful, to be sure, and there's nothing that I would not give for their adjusted and their actual birthdays to have coincided. But in the spirit of making lemonade---and really much more than that---from lemons, the good things that we have gotten from parenting Hallie do matter and are things that I hold very dear as I reflect on Hallie and Olivia's should-have-been birthday tonight.

So even though we're no longer supposed to be adjusting Hallie's age anymore, and even though we've adjusted -- more or less -- to the new normal, I cannot help but think about all of these things tonight.
On a more mundane, but very significant note: we're now on 121 vomit free days around here, which places 150 totally within reach!

Wednesday, October 1, 2008


....because this really is about Hallie, and all of her little friends, and the future, and the world that we live in, and the American way and pretty much everything else that is important in this corner of the universe.

I don't think anyone who knows me has any doubts about this, but I've voted in every election (but one) since I turned 18. But this election matters more than most, and, while I am an unabashed Obama supporter, honestly, I'd rather that you vote for someone else than not vote at all.

Voter registration closes in a few short days, and our virtual friend Laura over at Adventures in Juggling linked to this important PSA:

So, make sure to tell five friends to register to vote, and then make sure that they do go out and actually cast their ballots on Election Day (a mere one month and 3 days from now). I believe enough in this great country to believe that we have some power to help shape our kids' future, and one fundamental way we're going to be able to do this is by voting come November 4th.

Look Ma, No Shirt!

Hallie loves to go naked whenever possible, and her favorite item to pull off is her shirt (for some perverse reason, she loves putting on pants and socks and leg warmers and is a masterful self-shoe-shodder, but she hates shirts and always has. Onesies are the worst. Anyway, there is nary a day when she doesn't take off her shirt, and consequently we have ample opportunity to take pictures of her exposed belly.

The kid loves climbing; in clear defiance of Occam's razor, which stipulates that, all other things being equal, the simplest solution is the best, Hallie never takes the easiest path between two points. She prefers to climb over things rather than walk by them, as is evident below:

This last one is one of our favorites since it's a rare full-on smile from our girl (who has, apparently, taken as much of a liking to hates as she has a distaste to shirts):

Not much else going on here--Hallie's had a relatively uneventful week and is now at 119 vomit-free days (sadly, today was not one of them). She has a pretty miserable diaper rash, the origins of which we cannot pinpoint, and may be losing her ear tubes (she's been playing with her ears for the past couple of days). But otherwise, she is being sweet, smart, and sassy and her usual self. We're planning on a food trial beginning on Friday: black beans. Wish us well since part of our stability of late has everything to do with our suspension of food trials and we're hoping that this goes well (especially since we have a preemie meet up coming up this Sunday and would like Hallie to be in fine form for her little friends).