How Old is Hallie?

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How Old is Lea?

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Thursday, January 28, 2010


Yesterday evening, after I got home, Hallie was playing with Sharon and having a blast. She turned to Sharon and said to her: "Mommy, I feel HAPPY!"

We thought that was great. For Hallie to express herself using language is alone a huge thing. Remember, this is a kid who, up until recently only used language to label or describe things she saw (admittedly in ever more complicated ways, so we've heard some "It's dark outside" and not just "Look! It's Sam Wiggle. Sam is Yellow.") or to demand stuff of us ("Hallie wants Pirate Booty!" or "Watch Diego Saves Christmas" sorts of constructions).

But even more impressive is that she is expressing abstract feelings: we've heard "I feel cold" a few times but 'cold' is a fairly concrete concept. "Happy" is not. Happy is an abstraction and happy is what Hallie was feeling when Sharon was playing with her.

Even more significant was an exchange that took place a few minutes later. Lea was in the living room and got upset about something. Hallie went over to Lea, who had begun to fuss and cry a bit and said to us, "Lea feeling sad." Then she hugged and kissed Lea and turned to us and said, "Lea feeling happy." Hallie totally got that a. crying indicates sadness and that b. hugs, kisses and cuddles make you feel happy.

This is HUGE. Remember, Hallie used to laugh when Lea was crying. We weren't sure why, but we were pretty convinced that Hallie was fairly confused about emotions and wasn't making the connection between crying and feeling sad and needing comfort when it concerned anyone but herself: she was pretty clear about seeking out comfort if she was upset but was unable to understand that this applied to others, too. At least where Lea is concerned, that hurdle seems to have been surmounted (though this still requires generalization).

What does all this mean? Hallie is developing the ever-important Theory of Mind. If you are a parent of a child on the spectrum, you know precisely how significant this is. If not, here's a good place for more information about why Theory of Mind is so essential to typical development and interacting in the universe. Basically, what it comes down to is this: if Hallie can understand that other people behave in certain ways because they feel particular emotions (in other words, that other people also cry when they feel bad and smile when they feel happy), she will be able to form meaningful connections with them, predict their desires, understand that their desires are not always the same as her own, etcetera etcetra. In other words, Theory of Mind is an essential precursor to friendship.

And there is no doubt in my mind (theoretical or otherwise) that Lea is Hallie's best friend and that Hallie cares a great deal for Lea. That she can take into account how Lea feels and want to make her feel better makes me and Sharon feel very, very happy.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

How to Make a Rainy Day Feel Full of Sunshine

Yesterday, the three of us (me and the kids) got stuck in a very sudden downpour without the stroller cover. Hallie and I got soaked (Lea was relatively more protected in the bottom seat of the Phil & Teds stroller) and by the time we got home from our 8 block walk, were quite bedraggled. I pulled Hal's wet clothes off of her and grabbed a towel and rubbed her down and dried off her hair. Then she grabbed the towel and said, "I dry you off now Mama!" How totally sweet. It made getting caught in the rain totally worthwhile (well, sort of).

Too bad there are no visuals to accompany this, but let me just say that Hallie and I were quite a sight to see!

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Midweek Update

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Just a short post before I get into bed. School went fine today (which was not unexpected; I am hoping that my $13.99 investment in yet another alarm clock continues to pay off; I suspect an earlier bedtime will help, too). The train ride in was great--I am probably the only insane person out there who looks forward to spending a couple of blissful hours on the train when I get to read for class or prepare powerpoint presentations but, let's face it, not much work gets done at home because my kids (quite correctly so) think that Mama is at their disposal for things like being tossed up in the air, tumbled upside down, and having pillows piled upon them. So the two hours a day that I get for work when I don't pay (much) attention to things like email, Facebook (which I am not a big contributor to in any event), etc really matter to me. I am not a big fan of the mile-long hike through unexciting terrain once I get to Lancaster (part of the problem is the lack of a really direct route to campus unless one wants to take a footbridge that is literally rusting under one's feet), but it does give me the opportunity to revisit my iPod's vast and un-listened to contents, not to mention that I could use the exercise. And it was nice to teach--particularly since some of my favorite students from a couple of semesters ago are enrolled in my classes and it's really quite nice to catch up with them.

Things went OK at home. First and foremost, it does seem that Hallie did miss me and that she understood that I was "at work" (though I am not sure that she comprehends what that entails. Really, there are only three things that a mama or a mommy might be doing if they are not in the room with Hallie: a. "Mama is hiding! She is playing hide and seek!" b. "Mommy is taking a shower" (apparently Mama never does...not sure why) or c. "Mommy (or Mama) is at work!" Anyway, she was fine with me not being here and very happy to see me when I came home.

Sadly, Nadia, our nanny, is not faring particularly well. She was running a fever and coughing her head off today and, consequently, Sharon had to leave work at around 12:30 and take over for her. Sharon will be using more precious PTO time tomorrow and Nadia, who visited yet another ER today, is on strict orders to stay in bed and recover. This is not good, and makes the location of emergency back up care all the more urgent for us. Sharon is going to call Hallie's preschool to see if there is any way that they can accommodate both of our kids for the hours that I work on an emergent basis. They are pretty full up, though, and have to worry about complying with state regulations concerning such things, so I am not holding my hopes out on this one. If anyone in the Philly area has any brilliant ideas about backup childcare coverage, please let me know.

Other than that, I just want to recount a couple of cute things about the kids before I roll into bed.

Lea: She's learned the sign for "all done" and uses it quite appropriately. I think it took her all of one day to master this. I've been signing with her---just a few signs, like "more", "eat", and "all done" and "all done" is by far her favorite. She remains a fabulous communicator who lets us know her needs, and this is very, very useful.

She is also Hallie's #1 fan club member. She wants to do anything that Hallie is doing and gets very frustrated when her comparatively less agile body gets in the way of such endeavors. She is cruising and thinking about walking, but not quite strong enough to do so. But that does not stop her from climbing up onto the chair that Hallie turns into a trampoline and trying to jump up and down on it. She is very pleased with herself when she does this (which is now quite regularly).

Lea is also mastering the art of stacking blocks. She saw me do it once or twice and took over from there.

She knocks them over often and thinks that's pretty hilarious too.

Lea is chatting and babbling up a storm and a couple of times I could swear that I have heard "shoe," "Hallie", and "Lea," but no "mama" or "mommy" quite yet.

Here's a cute shot of Lea lounging on the chair on top of Hallie, who of course was quite happy to be smushed by her sister:

Hallie regularly asks to hold Lea and is always excited to see her. Whenever I pick up Hallie from preschool, she squeals with joy when she sees her little sister.

Hallie also likes to "pretend to be Lea" and much of this pretense involves sitting in the swing (for which she is at least seven pounds to heavy, but I suspect that Fisher Price takes this into account in its design process since all the older kids I know who have long outgrown their swings like to get in them and try to strip the mobile at the top by pushing it in the opposite direction simply because it makes a really cool, yet quite grating, sound). Here's a shot of Hallie pretending to nap in the swing:

Hallie is not only acting super cute these days, but she's turned into a championship level eater (comparatively speaking, that is). She has been regularly downing 24 to 28 ounces of her super-charged goat milk, which has me a bit annoyed (I cannot believe that I am actually writing this) because I have to make a lot more batches than usual and this is consuming more time than I'd like right now. Additionally, she has developed a fondness for what she calls "chocolate popsicles" (known more conventionally as fudgsicles) and had two of them at Aunt Laura's the other day (she would have had a third...of course, they were the sugar free kind, but hey, 40 calories apiece does add up). She had one last night and part of one tonight. Hallie loves chocolate and has asked for "chocolate sticks" (Hershey's bars) several times now and has actually eaten part of them, which I think is great. At the very least it's allowing us to whittle away at the remaining Hallowe'en candy (we are not big candy consumers around here so we still have quite a stash on hand). Hallie's also been demanding snacks more regularly and tonight even ate a quarter of a grilled cheese sandwich and pronounced it "delicious." She's been rubbing her tummy and declaring things yummy and saying "mmm...that's good" about lots of stuff. Of course, she still refuses to eat vegetables and prefers junk food to everything else, but I am not too concerned about this. She gets her daily recommended dose of vitamins in her bottles and I think it's grand that she is not only willing to eat but that she eagerly requests food. I will be very surprised if she hasn't gained some weight over the past two weeks; she looks really good. Not much vomiting lately, either. We are up to 15 days without regurgitation after a pretty bad start this year, and that is a grand thing.

Hallie is also making some progress on the potty. She has earned four stickers so far and will get a prize tomorrow if she goes on the potty again. She still cannot/does not let us know when she needs to pee, but we are not pressing this matter too much just yet. She is excited to get stickers and, hopefully, by establishing some sort of routine, we will eventually get her potty trained. I think we'll try in earnest around her fourth birthday -- I'll be home full time (since the semester will be over by then) and can take charge of keeping her pull up free and deal with the inevitable consequences that arise from this.

That's about all for now. Time to turn in!

Monday, January 18, 2010

"I Make A Face Now!"

Hallie loves to make notes (scribble) in one of my (expensive Levenger) notebooks. Tonight she made this:

Not a bad face, no?

In other notable advances, she announced to Lea today, after we got home from preschool and Lea woke up from her stroller nap (this is where she naps most afternoons): "Hi Lea! You're awake! I missed you." And when Sharon got home from work, Hallie announced, "Mommy's here! Hi Mommy! I missed you!"

I hope that she misses me, too. Tomorrow is my first day back at school after leave and it's going to be hard to be away from the kids for so long, but it's really nice to know that I'll probably be missed.
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Sunday, January 17, 2010

Christmas and Beyond: A VERY Belated Post

As Sharon just helpfully pointed out, I never did manage to do the Christmas post. I have also not managed to post much of anything else. The heart is willing, but the blogging hands are tired is all I have to say. Things have been nutty around here lately: we are currently experiencing a rare moment (that I am no doubt jinxing as I type this) when both kids are well, but between Thanksgiving through the end of the first week of the New Year, one or the other kid was sick, and quite dramatically so. Then they both recovered but Nadia, our mother's helper/nanny, contracted pneumonia (unrelated to Hallie's; she came back to work on Monday already showing symptoms of distress) and she's been out of work most of the week. So I've been doing pretty much all of the daytime childcare AND trying to prepare to start teaching full time again in a couple of days. Needless to say, blogging has suffered.

So, in the spirit of trying to catch up before the proverbial crap hits the fan, here goes:


We have crappy pictures that do not do justice to how much fun the kids, and especially Hallie, had at Aunt Laura's on Christmas eve (sadly, Santa neglected to leave us a D-SLR under the tree; we are trying hard not to believe we were on the naughty list). Both of the girls were thrilled to see their cousins and things got even more fun after Hallie cracked open a Christmas cracker and found a very small ball inside. She located a cardboard tube from some wrapping paper and initiated a game of 'blow the ball through the tube' with Hannah. What's notable here is that it was Hallie who came up with the idea for this game.

As usual, Hannah was thrilled to play with Hallie. She is a great older cousin and Hallie has benefited so much from being around her quite a bit this year.

Lea had a lot of fun, too. She spent a considerable amount of time at the chalkboard practicing her writing skills:

Now, while she did not in fact write the names on the board, she is really interested in writing/drawing because she sees Hallie doing it so often. She can smell a crayon a mile away and she has successfully drawn a few scribbles on our easel at home. She also enjoys biting off and swallowing the tips of crayons, so we tend to keep her away from them as much as possible.

We ended our Christmas eve soiree by going outside and scattering reindeer food for Rudolph & co. As you can see, we still had a whole lot of snow left over from the two-foot snowfall of the previous weekend. I find it much easier to believe that Santa comes flying in on his reindeer-driven sled when there is some snow to cushion the landing. And, since Sharon had been tracking Santa's progress via an app downloaded on her iPhone, we knew that the big guy was getting near and that it was time to get the kids in bed.

By the time we got back to Grammy's that night, Hallie was thoroughly exhausted. Perhaps she was coming down from a slight sugar high (her Christmas eve dinner consisted of two two-bite brownies; what they lack in nutrition, they make up for in calories). She opened her Christmas jammies, put them on, hit the bed, and crashed for the night.

As is typical, Lea completely came into her own just as Hallie was going down for the night. (This has become a source of great distress to me, by the way, since it bodes poorly for me getting my work done in the evening after Hallie goes to bed).

The first project that Lea undertook was stealing (and eating) Santa's cookies:

Then she moved on to Grammy's dish of Peppermint Patties. She found the shiny silver paper very alluring and the minty chocolate contents even more:

The kids slept in, but we finally shook them out of bed around 10:00am. Hallie clearly had no idea that Santa, Mommy and Mama, and Grammy had left a huge number of presents under the tree for her and Lea. It took a bit of time for us to manufacture the requisite excitement of opening presents on Christmas morning, but by the time Hallie was done, we think she got it. She certainly was into the presents -- which is not at all surprising and, for several weeks running, would regularly ask to open more presents from Santa. This, of course, was reinforced by the fact that we saw lots of good friends and family after Christmas was over and exchanged gifts with them then. I think that by the time New Years Day came around, Hallie was pretty convinced that every day is Christmas.

Anyway, I digress. The big ticket item that Santa got Hallie was a red guitar.

By evening Hallie was strumming away at it quite naturally. We've downloaded an iPhone app to help us tune it but we've yet to find an app that will prevent Hallie from turning the keys and loosening the strings again.

Hallie especially enjoys playing along with the Wiggles and Muno (from Yo Gabba Gabba). Lea's gotten in on the act, too. While the little red guitar is way too big for Lea (which of course does not stop her from cruising over to the guitar stand and plucking at the strings and occasionally threatening to drag the whole thing down on top of herself), she has taken to putting the guitar strap over her head (yes we watch her carefully when she does this, and the strap has a 'breakaway' feature) and playing the toy electric guitar that we inherited from brother Jake. She is so cute and so smart and reminds us a lot of Hallie in a very, very good way.

Of course, Lea got her own musical gift from Santa. Here she is unwrapping her Bee Bop Baby Band set:

She enjoyed the band set, but her real thrill came when she emptied her stocking. Here she is sampling her binkies:

In this next shot, Hallie is posing with her favorite gift of the day, which Grammy got her:

This remains her favorite and, today, several weeks after Christmas, Hallie took a bath with the Wonder Pets figures (we think she is partial to Ming Ming) and had them floating in a makeshift flyboat.
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Grammy let Santa know what she was getting Hallie, so he also brought her a Super Hallie cape so that she could be just like her heroes. Unfortunately, the tight velcro around the neck bothers her, so we need to fashion a device to make it a bit looser for her. I think that one of the new mitten clips that we bought would work just fine. (Several times now Hallie has helpfully informed me, when I have inquired about the whereabouts of one of her mittens or gloves, that she 'put it on the floor' -- meaning that she had thrown yet another mitten onto the sidewalk during one of our walks. Even at three dollars a pair on sale at the Children's Place, all of these lost mittens have begun to add up so I've diverted our resources toward the purchase of super cute mitten clips from Etsy; one of them can be repurposed for our little super hero's comfort).

After we finished unwrapping our gifts and had time to test all of them out, Aunt Laura and Uncle Bryan and the extended family brought over Christmas dinner. The kids had a blast playing together and Hallie was very much part of the mix. Here, Hallie is playing with her cousins Hannah and Adam and their cousin, Quinn. The three older kids got Nintendo DS's for Christmas and Hannah shared hers with Hallie after Hallie asked for a turn. Hallie loved being part of the older kids' games.

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She also really enjoyed pretending to be one of the five little monkey jumping on the bed and alternatively rough housing and cuddling with her cousin. Hannah makes Hallie very happy and I know that the feeling is quite mutual:

Lea also enjoyed playing with her cousins in her own Lea-like way. Here she is running her hands through Adam's hair (which is super thick). Adam was great because he also tolerated lots of face-patting (and slapping) and hair pulling from his littlest cousin.

We left Grammy's exhausted and in good spirits. The next day, more fun was in store because we had Boxing Day plans with Anne, Eliza Grace, and her Nana. Hallie was super excited when we pulled up at Nana's condominium complex. She knew exactly where we were (she has a phenomenal memory and sense of direction; perhaps she can get us out of all of those jams where we get lost and circle round and round when she gets a bit older). And she was thrilled to be there.

Here's a lovely shot of Anne with Hallie and Eliza:

We hung out all day, exchanged gifts, played hard, ate a couple of meals together and generally enjoyed the company of good friends. We love it that we manage to get Hallie and Eliza together pretty regularly and wish only that we all lived even closer to one another.

The girls ended the day with a nice bath and had a brilliant time splashing around in the tub and playing with Eliza's excellent array of tub toys:

After her bath, though, Hallie's face got very flushed--which is always a sign of a fever--and I became a bit worried. She seemed a tiny bit warm, but the condo was very hot (we had the oven on to cook dinner), and we attributed her slightly more subdued nature to lots of play and no nap. Hallie kept wanting to pretend to take a nap in Eliza's bed, and I suspect that she really did want to sleep, but there was too much going on to really settle down.

That was the evening that Hallie came down with pneumonia. Thankfully that's a thing of the least where Hallie is concerned. Now let's keep our fingers crossed that Nadia (our nanny) recovers in time to take over for me when I need to return to work on Tuesday...

Stay tuned for more (and hopefully shorter and less delayed) developments in the life of our little family during the month of January....

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Thursday, January 7, 2010


Hallie loves playing with her legos, and is particularly enamored with the set of little lego people that her brother Jake and his mom, Gina, got her for Christmas. Here she is counting them (after having line them up). It became clear to us that Hallie could accurately count to 29. And what number, might you ask, follows 29? Why 2010 (twenty-ten), of course!
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Lest you think that Hallie only lines up her Legos, here are a few shot that demonstrate otherwise.

We're pretty sure that the lego people in this car are practicing some sort of cheerleading exercise:

Here Hallie is building a tree:

She was very proud of the way it turned out:

In these shots, Muno (from Yo Gabba Gabba) and the Wonder Pets are going for a ride:

The Apples of My Eyes

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Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Hallie's Very Good Day

Today was Hallie's first day back at school. She was a bit off schedule, to say the very least, and we were worried about how she might fare. Between her recent bout with pneumonia and her late bedtimes, we were pretty sure that waking her up at 7:30am would leave her tired and cranky and less than well disposed towards good behavior at school.

Indeed, getting her out of bed this morning was no easy feat but we managed to do it. Miraculously, (perhaps aided by the fact that her body wants to make up for lost calories and all), she ate a great breakfast of 3/4 a slice of buttered toast and about five ounces of drinkable yogurt and she did not give Sharon a hard time about ingesting her amoxicillin-laced apple sauce (Sharon said that the capsules smelled precisely like the bottle pink goop and were enough to make her gag but Hallie does not seem to mind it, oddly enough).

We were out the door pretty much on time and at school by a bit after 9am. Hallie was excited to jump in the stroller this morning and exclaimed "it's circle time!" when I told her we were going to school and this boded quite well. When we got to school she wriggled out of her snowsuit (it is wicked cold here) and raced up the steps and ran into Miss Flora's arms, said hi to her teachers, and grabbed a seat next to her friend, D., and began her art project.

When I picked her up six hours later, Miss Flora was all smiles. She said that Hallie had had the best day ever: our girl was incredibly vocal all day long (she even sang out loud during music time, which is something that she never does, even though she knows all of the words to all the songs); had initiated interactions with all of her friends (something that I witnessed during pick up time when she stopped to talk to everyone and even asked one dad, "whose daddy are you?" and, when he identified himself, said, "Bye, bye, V.'s daddy!"); had eaten well; napped well; requested that she be taken to the potty and actually used it; let her teachers know what she did and did not want to do, etcetera. She was thrilled to see me and exclaimed "that's my snowsuit!" when she saw it on the hook, requested that I put on her boots but was okay with the fact that we only had shoes at school today, asked for her mittens (never mind that she threw one overboard and lost it on the way home from school), and inquired of me, "where is my stroller?" when she did not see it in the lobby (it was outside in the courtyard).

She continued to be chatty once we got home and then quickly headed off to the pediatrician's office for a follow up to make sure that she is recovering from her pneumonia. She easily complied with the nurse's requests throughout the checkup and we managed to engage in some great Floortime play while we waited for the ped to see her. The ped paid her a supreme compliment when he said that he wished she could teach his kids to behave as well during a checkup: she held out her finger and then thumb for the pulse ox probe; told the ped. that the stethoscope was for "listening to my heart;" removed her own shirt so that the nurse could take her temperature; and the like. And, after each medical intervention, she thanked the practitioner for doing what s/he did. She ended the visit by going over to the nurses' station and requesting her own sticker (something she never does; usually, I have to initiate most requests for her).

Once, at the doctor's office, and then once again tonight at home, Hallie put together two six-word spontaneous sentences. They were so mundane, so completely normal that I cannot even tell you what they were. They were appropriate as heck and utterly inconsequential and yet complex, completely well-conceptualized statements that were entirely intelligible and completely on topic. It's hard for Hallie to string together so many words in a row and she tends to stammer a bit to get them out of her little mouth, but there they were: our first long six word sentences. And I doubt that these were our last ones, too.

All of this was grand in and of its own right. But then, when I looked in Hallie's backpack this evening, I found the following note from her OT, which I am transcribing verbatim:

"If you want to know the definition of joy, you should have seen Hallie at school this morning. Smiles, laughter, participation, and cooperation.

"During free story time before music, Flora asked Hallie to choose a story so she could read it to her friends. This was a wonderful way to get Hallie to not only interact with her peers, but to follow up on my suggestion about spending time looking/talking about the story. Hallie LOVED holding the book so her friends could see, and labeling the pictures.

"During music, Hallie was so happy! She ws the only one who knew a goose says 'honk!' We had a lot of opportunity to work on motor skills -- jumping with 2 feet, balancing on one, and cross patterns like swinging arms and stomping feet."

Hallie helped clean up at school today and at home this evening and asked to go to bed when she was tired (rather than melt down). She literally administered all of her own meds (the amoxicillin apple sauce, the syringes of axid and periactin, and the puffers of flovent) and then cheerfully went upstairs to sleep.

We're not sure why today was such a great day (other than the fact that it was the first day back at school and that Hallie loves school), but we're going to try to remember how good this day was on days that are less good. We're taping the OT's note to the fridge and etching it in our memories (which are nowhere near as good as Hallie's) so that we can look back on this day and smile.


Final tally of vomit-free days for 2009: 272
Tally thus far for 2010: 2 (not getting off to a great start, really, but let's face, the pneumonia hasn't helped any).


I do promise to get some pictures up in the near future, by the way!

Saturday, January 2, 2010


Hallie busted free this afternoon (with doctor's permission, naturally). She couldn't wait to leave the joint and was thrilled to pack herself into the little red Radio Flyer wagon that she adopted while at CHOP and get the heck off of the 4th floor of the Seashore House. However, when offered the choices of 1. going straight to the car and coming directly home and 2. passing through the CHOP gift shop and getting a balloon (as I noted a few posts ago, we reward our kids for their trauma by buying them something because, as anyone who has ever been to our home already knows, we don't have enough toys and assorted stuff crammed into our tiny space just quite yet), Hallie responded eagerly with a very resolute "BALLOON!" So now we have a 3 foot Dora (a current favorite of Hallie's) residing alongside the still-inflated bouquet of happy face balloons.

Hallie was relieved to see me and Lea and to get comfy here at home. She was also thrilled by her bath today, which was extra long and involved a lot of 'building' of shaving cream towers with the foam soap that Santa left in her stocking. She took a nice long nap, ate some food. This was not much, but, over the course of the day, managed to ingest a slice of bacon, an ounce of her goat cheddar, some french fries and goldfish crackers, and about two bags of cheese puffs that are utterly lacking in nutritional value but do have some calories, three apple juice boxes that helped us keep her hydrated and, most importantly, about 13 ounces of her fortified goat milk. It's been a good week since she's had any goat milk, which is still the mainstay of her diet and contains her multivitamins, and no doubt this, plus the general malaise of fighting pneumonia and the racing metabolism associated with a fever and elevated heart and respiratory rates, account at least in part for the severe drop off in Hallie's weight. According to our home scale, she is a whopping 30 lbs. 6.4 ounces right now, down from about 31 lbs. 8 ounces two weeks ago. She seems to have also grown in stature and is probably about 40 inches tall right now, so she's essentially a string bean. She weighs less than she did last May, which is worrisome to me. But at least she is not refusing her beloved "ba" (bottle) anymore so maybe she'll pick up steam in the eating department soon.

We found out from the doctors that there are no particular restrictions on her activities at this point, so, as long as the fever stays at bay, she'll be able to go back to school on Monday and to her therapies this week. We were also able to celebrate a somewhat belated New Years this evening with our friends Renee and Kim and their daughter Taylor, and this made us and Hallie very, very happy. Taylor, who is 18 months old, adores Hallie and Lea and they feel the same way about her. The kids had a blast crawling through our play tunnel, making music together, and drawing at the easel. They kept each other amused and the four of us were, for the most part, able to have adult conversation and sit at the table while they all played. This is something pretty new for us. Brief interventions were only needed when scuffles broke out over toys; Lea or Taylor wanted to nurse; and when Lea grabbed hold of Hallie's two-bite brownie (Hallie did not mind) and shoved the whole thing in her mouth and made a mess (she had no problem eating the whole thing; she just had lots of chocolate on her face that required fairly extensive clean up).

We did manage to get the amoxicillin powder (from an opened capsule) into Hallie this evening, which is a relief. Hallie experiences sensory vomiting with some medicines, including ibuprofen and all of those nasty pink bubblegum flavored antibiotic suspensions, and we were not sure how she'd do with the powder (which is no doubt bitter), even if it was mixed into applesauce. We did not (and do not) relish the idea of bringing her to the ped's office for daily shots of antibiotic, so let's keep our fingers crossed that she can continue to take her meds this way for the next nine days.

On other, loosely related developments: Hallie is now drawing faces that are pretty darned accurate. A month or two ago, she'd draw a circle for us, but, after the points of her pen or crayon met, she'd continue to go round and round (so that the resulting product would look more scribblish than circlish). Over the past couple of weeks, she has stopped doing this and instead draws a circle and stops when the points meet. She places eyes, nose, and mouth in the proper place (though she does not yet accurately distinguish between a happy smile and sad downturned lips), and will add in ears, chin, hair and a body if this is requested of her. And tonight she drew a very accurate looking sun in the sky when asked to do so. She is also attempting to draw her own hand and asked me to help her turn it into a chicken (I think she meant turkey; this was something I tried to do with her back around Thanksgiving and she expressed no interest in my turkey hand art at that point but clearly remembered that hands can look like various species of fowl). And she loves carrying around her 'notebook' (a little spiral bound notebook I picked up for her at Rite Aid) and writing down 'clues' in it, a la Blue's Clues (another favorite show of hers). It's very cute.

OK--it's super duper late (the kids were both up very late due to massively disrupted schedules that somehow have to right themselves by Sunday evening) so I should end this here but I do promise to talk about Christmas at some point before Valentine's Day!

Friday, January 1, 2010

Ushering in the New Year at CHOP

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Sharon took this picture of Hallie just around the time of her admission last night (or early morning, really). It took a while for the nurses to start Hallie's IV so that she can get antibiotics and fluids into her system and then even more time to find a room for her. Hallie and Sharon weren't settled down into their new (and hopefully very temporary) digs until around 4am. As you can see, Hallie was exhausted. She was a great patient though and balked only at the blood pressure cuff and IV stick; otherwise, she was a charming little girl who cooperated with her nurses and doctors throughout the whole process and kept thanking them for doing things like taking her temperature and listening to her heart and lungs.

Meanwhile, back at home, Lea and I found ourselves awake, too. Neither dark quiet time nor a bedtime bath really settled Lea down. She was missing her mommy and interested in going to sleep in her arms (and at her breast), not mine. Finally, some very vigorous rocking did the trick at around 2 am. I collapsed in bed with her, my bottle in the cooler at the bedside ready for when she inevitably woke up seeking out Sharon to nurse. That happened some time between 6 and 7 am and Lea's response to the bottle was none too pleased. When she realized that mama, and not mommy, was in bed with her, she began to thrash and kick and give me a tongue lashing (she makes these very annoyed back-talking sounds --a very guttural and prosodic "rah-rah-rah-rah-rah" that suggest her deep displeasure with you when you don't do something she wants to do or deny her something she wants to have). I whipped out and presented the bottle to her but she was having nothing of it and began to kick me more fiercely. Then I tried to place the bottle in her hands (she likes to hold her own bottle and not have it held for her). She grabbed it and threw it at least a foot. And began to thrash, kick, scream, and backtalk some more. This lasted about fifteen minutes. She then seemed to collapse from exhaustion but in fact was only gathering more steam for the next battle, which lasted just as long. Finally, some time after 7, I managed to shove the binky in her mouth and get her to sleep.

Both Lea and Hallie slept until well past 11 am. The nurses and doctors assessed Hallie while she was asleep and decided that she needed to spend another day and night at CHOP: it seemed imprudent to discharge her because of her oxygen saturation, which was hovering in the lower mid 90s (93-94) and never exceeding 96; needing to make sure Hallie wasn't reacting to the antibiotics she was being administered; and the very real need to ensure that Hallie doesn't get dehydrated (which is especially a problem now that she is refusing to drink her milk entirely and is seriously limited in terms of intake more generally---she looks painfully thin right now). Fortunately, Hallie did not need to be placed on oxygen, but she needed (and continues to need) IV fluids right now.

Sharon did find out that it would be possible to bring Lea over for a visit. I was of two minds about this: on the one hand, Lea missed her sister and needed to nurse (and Sharon needed to nurse her just as much). On the other hand, bringing her to CHOP places her at a greater risk of picking up some yucky bugs (it places Hallie at just as great, if not a greater, risk, too). But we decided to bring her in since we could keep her in the room with Sharon (there's a pretty comfortable bed/couch for parents in the room). So Aunt Renee shuttled us off to CHOP early this evening and we spent a few hours there.

At first Hallie was pretty lethargic and subdued. Renee was worried about this. But after a popsicle, she perked up and we took the kids on a wagon ride through the hospital. The kids had a blast (and particularly enjoyed the relatively fast downhill run in the corridor between the main hospital and the Wood building).

but once 7pm rolled around, Hallie was exhausted and weepy again (this has been the trend the past few days). She was none too thrilled about eating her dinner and managed only to get in a couple of bites of fish stick, a slice of apple, one fry, and four sips of apple juice. (Lea, in contrast, happily ate a bunch of food, of course). She quickly began to lose it, so Renee, Lea, and I headed home. An hour later, Hallie was up and crying for me. This broke my heart. She was inconsolable and, as of my last conversation with Sharon at midnight, remained so.

Lea slept happily for a couple of hours and is now awake again. I fed her some more food (the kid can eat), another 6 ounces of bottle, and changed her diaper and got her into jammies. And as soon as this is done and posted (in a matter of seconds), I'm going to try to get her down again. Anything short of 2am will be a victory, of sorts.

So this has ended up being a very different way of ushering in 2010 than anyone ever expected, but hopefully things improve from here.

I hope everyone out there reading this had a happier new year celebration and wish you all health, peace, and love in 2010.