Sunday, December 22, 2013

O Christmas Tree, O Christmas Tree...

Before I dive into Christmas, I have a wee confession to make.  I let myself get waaaaaaaaaay behind in my blogging (like  I do) and so to catch up, I got a little tricksy.  Rather than cram a bunch of posts in back-toback-to-back (which makes my OCD twitch, for some reason) I slipped a few back-logged entries in between the others, around the times that they would have been posted had I been more on my game.  So, in case you missed them, the Halloween post is here, and the visit-to-the-dentist post is here.  Now, on to Christmas!

Brandon's command Christmas party was a two-for-one this year: they had a party for the adults in one of the smaller hotel ballrooms, and at the same time, had childcare a party for the kids in one of the nearby hotel conference rooms.  And, before they officially kicked things off, the kids got a surprise visit from Santa.  He spoke to each of the children, and "brought" a special toy for each one (supplied by the parents earlier in the week).  Elora had no problem saying hi to Santa, but miss Kaylie wanted nothing whatsoever to do with him.  When it was her turn, she wouldn't even look at him--until we told her that he had a present for her.  Even then, she held on to me even as she reached with the other hand to take the gift from Santa.

Once Santa was gone, the DJ played about 20 minutes' worth of kid-friendly music and let the kids dance on the dance floor before sending them all back to their room for their own banquet: fruit punch, chicken nuggets and french fries.  :)  I'd been a bit worried that they wouldn't handle it well when Brandon and I left, because it was a strange place and strange people, but they were fine.  In fact, Elora burst into tears when we came to pick them up at the end of the night.  

The adult party was pretty standard: catered dinner, raffle prizes (Brandon won a fancy-schmancy knife), and loud fun music.  I enjoyed myself, but spent most of the evening sitting still, chatting just with the people who happened to be near me.  Brandon was much more social, and had a great time.  We stayed until about 11, when I'd had as much as I could handle.  I hated to drag him away, but well, I wilt pretty early these days.

We went one afternoon the following week to pick out our Christmas tree.  They had candy canes for the kids, which the girls loved.  Both girls wandered around, though Elora was the only one really looking at the trees.  She kept going from one tree to another, saying things like "Ooh, what about this one?!"  I ended up choosing a small, but well-shaped tree, and Elora gave her full approval.  :)

We got it set up that evening, but waited until the next day to decorate it.  Brandon helped me get the lights on the tree, then set about capturing the evening's events on camera.  The girls, for their part, were excited to help decorate and anxious for their turn to participate.  And the poor things had to wait for me to do the lights twice, because I wasn't happy with the placement the first time around.

Elora did help me with the garland, and she "helped" me with keeping Kaylie out of trouble.  Any cautionary comment that I made to either of them, Elora repeated.  It was adorable, and a little exasperating.  The imp.

When we finally got the the ornaments, the girls were almost rabid to get started.  We did some of the generic glass ornaments first, and then moved on to their ornaments.  (You'd be surprised how many they've managed to acquire in only a few years!)  They loved everything about it.  Except, perhaps, for the waiting as I unwrapped the ornaments.  Elora seemed to be taking some care with where she put hers, but Kaylie had just 2 branches that she'd deemed acceptable and all of her ornaments went on one of those 2 branches.  And though they could reach higher up the tree, neither one put any higher than about the second row of branches.

We got about a third of the way through when I called it a night--for them.  I went back to it after they'd been tucked in for the night, and not only finished the tree, but put out the rest of our Christmas decorations as well.

Ta-da!  Perfect.  :)

Saturday, December 14, 2013

A Peek into Kaylie's Therapy

On days when Brandon is home early enough that Elora can stay home with him rather than coming to therapy with us, Elora usually chooses to stay home.  And I have learned that on those days, if I play like a mouse in the corner, I can go back and observe Kaylie's therapy without distracting her.   And yesterday, it finally occurred to me to try getting a video of their session.  The audio isn't the best, unfortunately, but you will definitely get a good idea of what they're doing for half an hour, three times a week.  I couldn't get them to upload directly to Blogger, so I uploaded them to Photobucket instead.  Here are the links:
Jennifer really is amazing with her!  We hit the jackpot, when we were assigned to Jennifer.  I could not have chosen a better therapist, or a better match for Kaylie, if I had personally interviewed and hand-picked someone for the job.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Childhood Apraxia of Speech

(The video has nothing to do with the post, it's just cute.)

Kaylie has been attending speech therapy for about 6 months now, so I thought it was about time for an update.  We had her hearing tested back in August (about 3 months after starting the therapy) in an effort to determine whether a hearing deficiency, however mild, might be contributing to her slow speech development.  Not only did she pass the hearing test, but she cooperated so well that the lady doing the test commented that she is rarely able to administer the whole test to children so young, and that Kaylie responded normally to all of it.  So, that pretty well ruled out a hearing deficiency as a cause for Kaylie's speech delay.  With that possibility eliminated, Jennifer became fairly sure that it is probably childhood apraxia of speech, a cognitive disorder in which there is a disconnect in the planning process of speaking.  According to the site I linked above, "children with apraxia of speech have great difficulty planning and producing the precise, highly refined and specific series of movements of the tongue, lips, jaw and palate that are necessary for intelligible speech."   In other words, her brain has a hard time telling her mouth how to form the necessary sounds for speech.  It sounds really scary, and I'd be lying if I said I wasn't a little bit freaked out when Jennifer first shared her suspicions with me.   Kaylie is really too young for an official diagnosis, but from what I've read about apraxia and what I've observed about my child, it fits.  Even if we later find that we're wrong about the core problem, then this at least gives us a plan for how to move forward with her therapy now.

In the three months since then, Elora and I have stopped going into therapy with Kaylie.  In the beginning, I think it was good for all of us to participate, because it helped Kaylie to become comfortable with Jennifer, but it had become obvious that Elora and I were just distractions.  We've also added a third therapy session each week, and the additional day seems to have flipped a switch somewhere.  She has improved so much just in the last month or two!  She's gaining consistency where she was once erratic, and is adding completely new sounds to her repertoire.  She is not only talking more and more, but she has become so much more willing to try new words!  This may seem like a small thing, but for me, this is the biggest indicator of just how far she's come.  

For my part, I cannot even begin to say how proud I am of her.  It is a little heart breaking to watch her struggle to wrap her mouth around some new sound, or combination of sounds, and sometimes I catch myself wondering why my beautiful, intelligent child must work so hard to do what comes so naturally to most other children.  But there is no "why", it just is.  So we're working with her, and encouraging her, and celebrating every victory with her.  To see her sweet little face just light up with joy and pride when she's able to say something new is just...well, there are no words.  :)

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Back to the Dentist!

The girls had their second check up with the dentist a few weeks ago, and this visit went just as well as the first!  Well, mostly.  They sat together in the seat again, and they were just as well behaved, and just as cooperative as they were before.  (In Kaylie's case, she was even more cooperative!)  The only shadow over the visit is that Elora has developed a few teensy, tiny cavities.  The dentist and hygienist both assured me that cavities are very common in young children, because the enamel on the baby teeth is much thinner than that on adult teeth, and especially when the teeth are touching, as they do in Elora's mouth.  And I know that I have terrible teeth ( a mouth full of fillings, ew!) and I don't think that Brandon's are much better than mine.  But, I still feel like I've failed my daughter.  We could have been a lot more diligent about tooth-brushing than we were, and what if that had been enough to prevent those cavities?  Am I doing enough to help her develop the necessary habits to keep her mouth healthy in the long-term?  I'm doing my best to squash the doubts and self-recrimination, and channel that energy into stepping up our game at home.  Kicking myself won't help Elora; being diligent about her oral care will.
The dentist advised us to have the cavities filled, and I went ahead and made the appointments to do so.  She said that if left unfilled, those cavities can spread quickly and lead to more serious issues.  Between what she told me, and what I later read online, I feel that our safest bet is to have the teeth filled, even if there is some debate about whether it's really necessary.  And even if I do hate that I'll have to make her go through that awful process.  But, better a few fillings now, than extractions a year or two down the road, right?

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Lightening Review, October* 2013

*Disclaimer:  When I say "October 2013", what I really mean is Halloween 2013.  Here are all of our activites for the second half of October crammed into one lightening-quick post:

We went to the Hickory Ridge Farm Pumpkin Patch to get a pumpkin or two.  I had the girls each choose a smaller pie pumpkin, because I knew I would be cooking them down for baking.

We also rode the pony, walked the corn maze, ate kettle corn, played in the bounce houses, went for a hay ride, and played on a hay bale mountain.  It was great for the girls, and I found myself wondering...why did we not do this until our last year in this area?

We had a Halloween dry run the weekend before the big night, and used it as an opportunity to get some stress-free photos and play in the leaves.

We    Brandon and the girls   Brandon carved the larger of our two pumpkins while I took pictures and the girls supervised.  Elora at least tried pulling out some of the pumpkin guts, but Kaylie wouldn't touch it!!!

And finally, we went trick-or-treating with Lydia and Little James.

Brandon had to take a 3 day trip for the class he was taking, so he couldn't go with us.  Rebekah and Big James were in Florida visiting family.  We missed them, but holy cow, we had a great time anyway!!

See, super fast!  Yes, I might have glossed over a few things, but you got the highlights.  :)

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Baby # 3: 30 Weeks

This past Saturday marked 30 weeks into the pregnancy.  Everything at the 28 week check up came back a-ok, so far as we can tell, everything is progressing normally and both of us are healthy.  I have put on more weight this time around, but I'm still within the "healthy weight gain" zone.  Since this is my third baby, I've been getting bigger, faster right from the beginning.  Brandon took these pictures on Saturday, at exactly 30 weeks, and I'm bigger here than I was at 39 weeks with Elora.

 I'm not yet as big as I was at the end with Kaylie, but it won't be long, I'm thinking.  I am into the third trimester, but not I'm not really getting tired so much as I'm easily fatigued.  Toting around this big ol' belly is naturally rough on my back, but it's also pulling painfully on the muscles across the top of my belly.  I'm fine in the mornings, but by late afternoon (or sooner, if I've been active) it hurts badly enough that I have to lay down for a while to rest those upper abdominal muscles.
I've also been swelling quite a bit already.  As with most everything else, it's not quite as bad earlier in the day, but my hands and feet are puffy 24/7 these days.  The swelling and the extra weight together have landed me with prenatal carpal tunnel this time around.  Apparently, it occurs in about 50% of pregnancies, but this is my first encounter with it.  It's not too bad, and as of now, is really only an issue in my right hand.  I've been sleeping with a wrist brace at night, and it's helping.

We still haven't chosen a name for our little boy, and I'm thinking we probably won't make up our minds until he actually gets here.  Since we'll probably be moving late in the spring or early in the summer, we decided not to convert the guest room into a nursery, but to make room in the girls room for a third occupant.  I've been haunting Craigslist, and managed to find another toddler bed exactly like the one we already had at a steal.  Once we had the second toddler bed, I was able to go ahead and convert the day bed back into a crib and, with Rebekah's help, get the room rearranged to accommodate all 3 beds.  Since there isn't room in the girls' dresser for more clothing, and there isn't room in their room for another dresser, my goal now is to replace the regular changing table with a cherry-colored changer-dresser to match the crib, so that I'll have a place to store his clothes and such.  I have put together a registry, for the things we expect to need (or hope to have).
Otherwise, I've just been working on finding new homes for all of the baby girl stuff that I've been hoarding saving in case we had another girl, so that we have a place for all of the boy things we're acquiring.  I've already received one box of clothes from a friend of mine here, and I've been told to expect more from other parties.  Seriously, I love baby hand-me-downs.  :)

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

15 Years of Photos

So, as I mentioned in my last post, Brandon and I have been taking pictures together for 15 years now.  And, since neither of us is yet 30, that's...pretty impressive, right?  And since today marks 9 years since we up and decided to just head to the courthouse without telling anyone, I'm going to celebrate by sharing a bunch of those photos.  

8th Grade Valentine's Dance, February 1998
Senior Prom, Spring 2002

Old-Time Portrait, July 2003
Our Wedding Day, July 16, 2005
Maternity Photos, January 2009
Family Portrait, October 2012
Old-Time Family Portrait, July 2013

And finally, the photo that sparked this post:

Khaki Ball, September 2013

We're a little ridiculous, aren't we?  ;)

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

The Khaki Ball

Sorry for the poor quality, but I forgot the camera and took all of these with my cell phone.
The Khaki Ball is a dinner party for the Chiefs, held annually at the close of each Selectee Season to celebrate the new additions in particular and all the Chiefs in general.  Ours was a week after the pinning ceremony, though some commands hold theirs the very same weekend.  I was glad for the week's delay, it gave us all a chance to catch our breath.  In addition to dinner, there were several speakers, and all of the new Chiefs were presented again, and awarded with plaques to commemorate the occasion.

Not sure how he was chosen to help cut the cake, but I'm glad he was.  :)
They had a photographer on hand doing prom-night style portraits, which I think was amazing.  Especially for us, since we've been doing photos like this one together for 15 years now.  (zomg, I'm going to have to come back to that one....)  

I am absolutely in love with this photo.  I scanned in our printed copy, but I've contacted the photographer to try to get the full digital image.  She doesn't seem to be too great at communication, though, so we'll see.

We both had a good time, but Brandon in particular was on cloud nine all night.  It was his night, and he spent it reveling in his accomplishment.   The hard part was over, the stress was off, and he had the opportunity to mingle with his new peers in a relaxed, social setting.  The food was good, the drinks were flowing, the company was great...I'm sure he'd have been happy to stay all night long, but there are risks associated with bringing a pregnant lady as your date.  I made it to about 11, and then had to call it.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Hail to the CHIEF!!

We survived the Selectee Season!  It was a rough 6 weeks, but we survived and now...he's a CHIEF!!  His pinning ceremony was this past Friday.  It was all a little crazy.  He'd had to stay on base the night before for the Final Night, so it was just us girls.  We got up and out of the house with plenty of time to make it to the ceremony on time.  Early, even.  I went right there without making any wrong turns (it's quite a ways away, and I've been there only a few times), and pulled in to the parking lot with 15 minutes to spare.  I was feeling rather pleased with myself, until I realized that the parking lot was packed.  After asking one of the base security personnel, I further realized that I would have to park across the street fully a block away from the chapel.  Suddenly, I had no extra time.  At all.  By the time we walked into the chapel, they were ready to start.  Thank goodness his sponsor had had the foresight to save seats for us; otherwise we would have been standing along the back wall of the chapel.  As it was, the line of Selectees was filing into the chapel singing "Anchors Aweigh" as I was getting us settled into our seats.  Ugh.  I really, really hate feeling rushed and flustered.  But we made it, and that's the important thing.

The Selectees, lined up across the front of the chapel, singing the last bit of "Anchors Aweigh".
The girls had been excited to go see Daddy in theory, but the reality was not at all to their tastes.  Kaylie spent the first bit of the ceremony playing with her mini magnadoodle and wasn't too fidgety, but Elora had left hers in the car and was quite, quite bored.  As she reminded me approximately every 2 minutes, throughout all the speakers, and the pinning of the few people who were ahead of Brandon.

Elora kept saying "Mama, this is too boring."
Brandon was, I think, the fourth of fifth person (of twelve) to be pinned.  I'd assumed that his sponsor, or perhaps his commanding officer would be the one to actually pin the anchors to his collar, but I saw from those first few that it was actually the families of the new Chiefs who did the pinning.  I passed my camera off to  the lady sitting in front of me, with the request that she take pictures for us, right before it was his turn.  But we were to the side and slightly behind where he was standing, and she was unfamiliar with the camera, so we didn't get much in the way of pictures.  

There was a Navy photographer there, though, and we were told that all the families would receive a photo disk with all the pictures from the ceremony.  Let me just tell you, I cannot wait to get my hands on that CD!!

They took pictures not only of the pinning process, but snapped a few family shots immediately after that I am just dying to have.  After the pictures, Brandon's sponsor placed his new cover--the last piece of his new uniform--on his head.

No more white hats for this guy.  :)
After that, both girls had officially lost patience with sitting still and being quiet.  Kaylie had gotten bored with the magnadoodle, and naturally, as soon as she set it down, Elora picked it up.  And just as naturally, as soon as Elora picked it up, Kaylie wanted it back.  I had a little bit of white model magic (it's kind of like a light weight play-dough) in the diaper bag, so I got it out for Kaylie.  But when Elora saw what Kaylie had, she was no longer interested in the magnadoodle either.  I ended up splitting it between the two girls, and it  successfully kept them occupied for the rest of the ceremony.  All I had to do was to keep Elora from trying to appropriate bits from Kaylie's half, and to remind them that they still needed to be quiet.  Oy.   

All in all, they were quite good.  The ceremony last for about an hour, and by the time it was done, neither one wanted anything to do with being still or quiet, or in Elora's case, even remotely cooperative.  We tried to do our own family photo, but well, like I said.  "Still" and "cooperative" were out.  This was the best we got.  Honestly, I kind of like it.  Every time I look at it, I will always remember that Elora wanted to hide and Kaylie wanted to run and I was just so proud that I didn't care.  This picture will always make me smile.  :)

Sunday, August 18, 2013

An Overdue Announcement

We're expecting baby number 3 in January!  This pregnancy has been very different from the first two, which were pretty mellow.  This time around, I spent the first trimester feeling perpetually car sick, I've been craving salty snacks as well as the sweet stuff, and I've been a psychopath noticeably hormonal.  Since the first two were both girls, I was convinced from early on that I had to be having a boy this time. We went in on the 9th for the anatomy scan, and found out that I'd been right!  

He seems to be doing perfectly well.  He's developing normally, and I haven't had any complications.  After the scare we had with Kaylie, this has been an incredible relief.  As a matter of fact, we didn't even tell the immediate family about the pregnancy until we were out of the first trimester, just in case.  And, obviously, we held off on a "public" announcement until now--partly so that we could share the gender at the same time, and partly just to be extra safe.  I'm at about 19 weeks now, so we're almost to the halfway point.  I can already feel him  moving around.  :)

As you can imagine, being pregnant has made Brandon's Selectee training a bit more difficult for us than it would have been otherwise.  Brandon, bless him, took the time out today to take these pictures, even though today was his only day off and he had a lot of other things he needed to be doing.

I snapped this one while I was trying to get the camera and tripod set up.  I think it's such a sweet picture.  :)

We're all excited about the new addition, especially Elora.  She is completely over the moon that she'll be getting a baby brother.  When we first told her that there'd be a new baby, before we knew the gender, she told us that she "picked a boy", because she already has a little sister.  I'm not sure whether Kaylie understands what's going on, or not.  She still can't articulate much, so it's hard to tell what she thinks.  I keep telling her that there's a baby in my tummy, but she always just looks at me like I'm crazy.  I think Brandon was hoping for a boy this time around, and I'm happy to be able to give him a son.  For my part, I'm a bit intimidated to be having a boy because it will be new and different.  Not to mention the fact that our children will soon out number us!!  So exciting/scary/wonderful.  :)