Tuesday, May 31, 2011

That's What Solana Said - May

5/1/11 While watching the royal wedding (recorded) they panned the crowd of wedding guests
Solana: Poor Lady! What's that on her head?!?
Me: A hat.
Solana: (relieved) Oh. I thought it was an ice pack.

Then, during the ceremony they had a bit of trouble getting the wedding ring on Kate.
Solana: Does it hurt a little bit...when you first get married...and put your wedding ring on for the first time?


Solana's showing me a book she borrowed from the library called, The Gruffalo. "Doesn't he look funny, Mommy?"

"Well, actually, I think he looks kind of scary. I guess we just have different opinions."

Solana then proceeds to point out each of his funny features and concludes with, "So I guess now you have a different opinion."


Solana said, "I'm going to dream."

She then went to her bean bag, laid down, and covered herself with a blanket. A few moments later she got up. Curious, I had to ask, "What did you just do?"

"I just wanted to finish my daydream real quick."

"Oh. ok. What was your daydream about."

"Well, it was kind of private."

Friday, May 27, 2011

Tonado Watch

This has been quite the Spring for rain in the Dayton area. One of the reasons we love our house so much is because of the HUGE back yard. We have two dogs now and it's like they have an entire park back there to run and play in. They've been in the back yard a total of...count 'em...5 days since the snow began melting this winter. That's one day per month this year. Seriously, we can't even let them out there to pee because they come back covered in mud from toe to belly just from walking out. Turns out our gigantic yard tuns into a swamp every time it rains and it takes a good 3 or 4 sunny days to dry it out enough for the dogs to go out and play. We haven't had many sunny days this spring... We take them on the leash in the front to potty. The other drawback is the fact that Dave can't mow a swamp. The grass was knee high when he finally busted out the push-mower (the riding mower would have sunk). Needless to say, we've been slightly annoyed with the constant rain this year. Spring isn't nearly as fun when you can't enjoy your awesome backyard.

Being human, we have definitely moaned and groaned a few times about the constant rain and how annoying it is. Then, earlier this week, Dave said, "You know, with all the natural disasters this year - tsunamis, tornados, flooding, etc - we should be happy that we just have rain and mud to complain about. There are worse problems than tall grass." "Yeah, you're so right. We should be thankful for the rain." I began saving milk containers and collecting rain for my vegetable garden. I think I have about 10 gallons sitting by my garden right now ready for the summer. It's funny how you can change your attitude so quickly. I'm hoping to get just a few more gallons before the rain stops. And potty breaks for the dogs are now quick training sessions.

No sooner had we changed our attitude than a major storm came to town bringing with it the threat of tornados. The girls and I were finishing up dinner. Solana was singing. Chloe was chattering. The dogs were close by wrestling. Suddenly, Dave yelled from the back room, "Turn on the news!" I recognized that urgent tone in his voice that means, "Don't ask questions...just do what I say." "OK!" I jumped up and turned on the TV. The local weather was on and they were tracking a storm and talking about tornados. How did he know? He hurried in and cracked the window. All motion and sound ceased when he came in. I think everyone else recognized that something important was happening. We immediately heard the tornado sirens. I'd never heard tornado sirens before. It was eerie. Creepy. My chest and throat tightened. My eyes got shiny. I was (very dramatically) inwardly suppressing my fear.

For the next 15 minutes or so we watched the storm on the news as it came toward us. They told us that if tornados formed they would be along I75 near the Dayton mall. That's not too far from us but seemed far enough to be safe. We were in the path of a heavy hail storm, though. They mentioned Centerville Station Rd. and Solana recognized the name. "That's right near us!" She exclaimed. "Are we going to SURVIVE?!?!" She was scared and it was difficult to answer all her questions while listening to the weatherman but I think we did a fair job. We showed her on the news that IF there was a tornado it would be DOWN here and we live UP here. I thought that would comfort her but then she was immediately worried about all the people who live DOWN where the tornado might land. "Will those people survive?!?" She's such a sweet caring kid.

Dave wanted to get his car in the garage but he didn't have time to move the riding mower, bikes, strollers, etc. He had to run and warn our neighbors - who he saw happily hanging out in their kitchen, the other riding along on his mower. I made him promise to run! (Dave doesn't normally run but I did not want him out there during a hailstorm and tornado.) At least the van was inside. We had a plan to get into Solana's bathtub if a tornado arrived. Dave would toss blankets and pillows over us and then toss the animals in the van. In the meantime, we moved away from the windows, sat on the couch, and watched the sky get dark. Rain drops started to fall. The trees started blowing around like crazy. And then the hail. Big hail. Scary loud hail. I was listening intently for the sound of a train - that's what I think a tornado is supposed to sound like. Solana snuggled against me and hid under a pillow as I held Chloe. Chloe stared out the window and seemed to think she was watching a show. The hail lasted just a few minutes. As soon as it ended Chloe clapped and cheered. Dave went out to bring Solana a hail stone. She loved it and declared, "I love hail!" "I don't," two voices replied in unison. Then we giggled with relief.

Dave's car is completely dented - every single panel will need to be replaced. The roof of our older shed is completely demolished. One pane from our big lamp in the front yard is shattered, a few slats from our shutters are smashed, and some of the small lamps in our landscaping are broken. One hail stone hit a shingle in the perfect spot to bust right through a knot in the wood supporting our roof creating a small leak and we noticed a wet spot on the ceiling in our dining room. Our yard is coverd in branches and leaf debri. All in all, not too bad. I'm glad we had already changed our attitude about the rain. Now we can double our thankfulness.

Thursday, May 26, 2011


We got a piano this weekend. It's old and full of character. Apparently, pianos are easy to come by on Craigslist, at least in the Dayton area. Dave was on piano watch for about two weeks before this one popped up. The gentleman who gave us his old piano just wanted it out of his house. All we had to do was bring a truck and move it. Well, when I say "we" I obviously mean Dave and three friends.

The girls are really excited and so am I! I took piano lessons from about age 7 to 15 or 16 (I can't remember exactly when I quit). By then I had become more interested and competitive in flute so I quit the piano. I played flute all the way through college.

I ordered some beginning piano books called My First Piano Adventures. They're geared specifically toward 5-6 year-olds and look ridiculously cute. Solana's lessons begin today! We can hardly wait!

It's fun having a child this age. We have no idea what her "thing" will be. I was into music and band. That was it. Solana's currently taking swim/cheerleading (tumbling) alternately and ballet. She (surprisingly) keeps asking to play soccer again in the fall, will definitely do cross-country in the summer, and now piano. I'll only let her do two things at a time (outside the house) but it's hard to choose because she's still dabbling. She likes a lot of things but hasn't shown a real passion for any of them. And I think that's perfectly fine at this age. There's just so much to choose from it's hard to narrow down her offerings. I suppose I'll be forced to do that at some point but we'll just enjoy dabble mode for now.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Barrel Roll and Yard Work

Two new beers currently grace the beer fridge in the Hendrickson garage. Dave, our friends, and I are all enjoying

Dave's currently buying recipe kits from Northern Brewer. The kit comes with all the ingredients he'll need to make a 5 gallon batch of beer. He wants to try all sorts of beers before he starts experimenting with ingredients and developing his own recipes. We're enjoying the variety of beers he's creating and the fact that they're all his. We haven't bought a store beer since his kit arrived at Christmas.

His Petit Saison is described on Northern Brewer's website: This session-strength Saison of summer pours tawny-gold and perfumes the air with tangy yeast and pungent hop aromas. The flavor is lightly earthy with spicy, flowery hops and a grain-and-bread malt character; caramel malt dukes it out with Saaz and Styrian Goldings through the middle before a palate-cleansingly dry finish.

It's really light and refreshing. One of my favorites.

His second new creation is Dave's Barrel Roll. This one was kind of exciting to make because it took a pretty long time. It was fermenting for a week or two before he even started his Yard Work. And we'd already tasted Yard Work before this one was done! Plus, he got to use a new technique. He bought some Kentucky bourbon and soaked oak chips in it for a few days before adding them to the beer. They soaked in the beer for a while before bottling. Dave likes this one a lot. It's super dark and strong.

Here's the online description for his Bourbon Barrel: Mike Ward, NB alumnus and current expatriate, devised this recipe by adding bourbon-infused oak cubes (plus the bourbon) to a stronger-than-average robust porter. Cryptic tasting notes indicate that this may have been the best beer ever. You supply the bourbon; Mike recommends Maker's Mark. The intense aroma and flavor of toasted American oak and the sweet graininess of good bourbon meld with the bittersweet roastiness of porter to make for a very characterful beer.

Not really my taste. But he did something fun and mixed Barrel Roll with Yard Work and....bada bing! Yum-a-licious!

Dave's already talking about his second career. He wants to open a pub in Centerville and sell his beer creations. I'm glad he enjoys his new hobby :-)

Friday, May 20, 2011

New Glasses Good

The new glasses seem to be helping. Chloe is looking at everything straight on. We haven't seen the left-eyed suspicious look in a few days. We're pretty excited about this. I'd also like to point out that the new glasses+contact idea was Dave's brainchild (I think he sometimes feels left out when it comes to Chloe's medical stuff). So big props to the fantastic Daddy! :-)

More and more hints that Chloe's vision is ever improving. Dave was reading the blog the other day on the netbook and was at the part with the picture of Chloe kissing her dog. She was sitting on his lap and the netbook was next to them on the couch. She looked over at the netbook and blew herself a kiss! Then, Chloe and I were crawling around the dining room floor together and Oprah was on in the living room (two rooms combined into one giant room - she was about 20 feet from the TV). Oprah was gesturing as she spoke in a way that could be mistaken for waving. Chloe turned toward the TV and started waving at Oprah!

Very exciting. Very exciting, indeed!

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

6 Year-Old Molars

Solana is teething! A couple of days ago she complained that her teeth were hurting and she felt a hole in her back tooth. A hole in her back tooth?!? She didn't act like she was in real pain so Dave and I sort of blew off her complaint thinking she just didn't want to eat her dinner. We told her to chew on the other side of her mouth. (Great parenting, right?) When she complained again the next morning I took a look and saw a molar that appeared to be half covered up by gum tissue. Frantic, I called the dentist. The lovely lady who answers the phone (I can't remember her name but she's really sweet and always remembers us.) told me it sounds like she's getting her 6 year-old molars.


I have a niece who's three months older than Solana. I have lots of friends with kids her age and slightly older. I read about dozens of fevers, colds, and other miscellaneous ailments on facebook every day. How is it that I've never heard of 6 year-old molars? Surely I was at one point aware of this apparently taboo phenomenon. Did I never notice, while brushing Solana's teeth, that she has fewer teeth than I? The knowledge that kids get new teeth after the age of two completely escaped my brain, though. I wonder exactly when that happened. So I was just as surprised as Solana to find out she's teething...right along with her baby sister.


She Wants To Walk!

Chloe's napping right now. She definitely earned her nap today. Just a little while ago she crawled up to me as I was standing and pulled up on my legs. Then she somehow conveyed to me that she wanted my hands. I'm not sure how I understood what she wanted but next thing I knew I was walking backwards with her walking toward me. We went around the living room and dining room about five times! I kept trying to stop and give her a break but she insisted we keep going. She was wearing her sneakers and on her tippy toes for a lot of it but toward the end she was putting her whole foot down almost 50% of the time. This was ALL Chloe. I wasn't pushing her or showing her what to do or even encouraging her to do more. She was completely self-motivated and self-teaching. I LOVED IT!

Raising Chloe has been SOOOO different from raising Solana. I joke sometimes that "you'd never guess we've done this before." It's like everything is new! The truth is that everything really is new. Solana developed almost exactly on track with all those recommended time tables. I would check the list of things she should be doing at 1 month, 6 months, 12 months, 24 months. And I'd always say to myself, "Yep. Yep. She's doing that. Yes. Yes." It was so easy! I never worried about her falling behind. It was a total non-issue. And I never tried really hard to teach her anything (well, except potty training - that was a pain). She knew what she needed to do and just sort of...did it. Sure, we put her in tummy time, cheered her on as she tried to crawl and walk, taught her signing and words. But it was all so natural and easy.

I feel like we've struggled and worked so hard for every single little thing with Chloe and we've had to push and push her to do anything. To see her self-motivate such a big thing, like an attempt at walking, is like a special little gift. Totally made my day.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Getting Used to New Eyes - updated with pictures

Chloe has been doing really well the past few weeks since her Strabismus surgery. We had a visit from her Physical Therapist, Vision Therapist, and Early Intervention Specialist on Thursday.

Chloe's PT, Lois, arrived first and Chloe showed off the way she walks behind her little car walker. Lois was impressed with Chloe's new skills and noted that her balance and posture seem better since her last visit (before surgery). She said to practice the little walker every once in a while and just let Chloe explore and have fun.

Look at her go!

It's nice to see the therapists. They only see Chloe once or twice a month and are trained to notice changes. They get really excited when I tell them all the cool and new things Chloe is doing. Even if I don't feel like I have a lot to report, listing everything out at once reminds me that she really has made progress.

Chloe's Vision Therapist, Linda, was blown away at how different Chloe looks after surgery. She noted
-that Chloe is no longer tilting her head,
-that she seems to move around better,
-she's looking at pages in her black and white book that she previously ignored (because she couldn't see them well),
-she notices the TV more and will even watch a cartoon with Solana,
-she's eating better (grilled cheese and peanut butter sandwiches, scrambled egg, french toast, mashed vs. pureed foods),
-she'll lay down and hold her bottle all by herself,

-she's kissing her dolls,

-she's imitating gestures/words more frequently
Linda attributes all of these things to Chloe's improved vision. At first it seemed to me like a bit of a stretch but I now think there's something to that. Chloe would be taking these little steps eventually but she does seem to have made several of them in a short period of time.

Chloe's left eye is her bad eye. ROP affected this eye the worst as a newborn and the laser surgery was most extensive on this eye. The heat from the laser caused a cataract. After her first cataract surgery the cataract returned so she had to have a second cataract surgery. She most recently had a muscle surgery to try and straighten the eye.

Although we've always worried about her left eye Linda mentioned to me that we need to pay close attention to how Chloe uses both eyes because sometimes kids can switch after surgery - meaning, the previous bad eye will become the dominant eye. This makes me nervous because, when Chloe is wearing her contact and no glasses she is definitely preferring her left eye. She no longer tilts her head but she will turn it to the side so that she looks at things with one eye. Sometimes people comment that she's looking at them suspiciously but really she's just using the left eye to look at them. I can think of three reasons for this turn of events:
1. Her right eye is slightly nearsighted. When wearing only a left contact there is no correction at all on her right eye. So maybe the vision in her left eye has gotten SO good that it's even better than her slightly nearsighted right eye.
2. We over-patched her right eye before the surgery and began suppressing its ability to work. 3. She's experiencing the post-strabismus surgery switch that Linda mentioned. Personally, I'd prefer the reason to be number 1. We also noticed that, when wearing just her glasses Chloe looks at things straight on. Meaning, she's using both eyes equally. This leads us to believe that #1 is really happening because her left eye sees better through her contact and her right eye sees better through her glasses.

Here are some pictures from Mother's Day. You can really see that Chloe's only using her left eye.

We've decided to try something new. We had a second set of glasses made for Chloe to wear over her contact. This one has only a little bifocal in the left lens. Otherwise it's just clear glass. The right eye has her normal RX. If she wears her contact AND these new glasses then she'll have the best possible vision in both eyes. We hope to see her looking at things straight on. Today is the first day in her new glasses. Fingers crossed.

Now I just need to stop her from ripping them off and feeding them to our 10 month-old Aussie puppy, Monty. And here's what our dogs look like when they're playing. Monty, the puppy, is the scary looking one. Still frame definitely makes him look more vicious than he really is...

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Look Ma! No Blood!

I found a great recipe for french toast and made it for the second time this morning. You have to cook it first in the frying pan and then in the oven. I'd never put my french toast in the oven before. It's a great recipe. If you're looking for a fantastic french toast recipe I highly recommend it. If you go to this website you can print out the recipe and watch the video demonstration by Alton Brown on Good Eats.

1 cup half-and-half (I used whole milk one time)
3 large eggs
2 tablespoons honey, warmed in microwave for 20 seconds (I left this out once)
1/4 teaspoon salt
8 (1/2-inch) slices day-old or stale country loaf, brioche or challah bread (I used Italian and challah. Both were great!)
4 tablespoons butter

1. In medium size mixing bowl, whisk together the half-and-half, eggs, honey, and salt. You may do this the night before. When ready to cook, pour custard mixture into a pie pan and set aside.
2. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Dip bread into mixture, allow to soak for 30 seconds on each side, and then remove to a cooling rack that is sitting in a sheet pan, and allow to sit for 1 to 2 minutes.
3. Over medium-low heat, melt 1 tablespoon of butter in a 10-inch nonstick saute pan. Place 2 slices of bread at a time into the pan and cook until golden brown, approximately 2 to 3 minutes per side. Remove from pan and place on rack in oven for 5 minutes. Repeat with all 8 slices. Serve immediately with maple syrup, whipped cream or fruit

Solana was my helper this morning. She sliced the strawberries using our egg slicer. I decided that she was also big enough to cut the tops off the strawberries. What an exciting moment to be handed a paring knife for the first time!!! She told me over and over how careful she'd be. And after some instruction and a few closely monitored cuts I let her finish while I worked on the french toast. After a couple of minutes I asked, "How's it going?"

She replied, "Great! And I'm not even bleeding! Not one little bit. Not even a single drop of blood!"

I agreed that this was a good thing. :-)

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

No Thank You

Solana has pretty good manners for a 6 year-old. (Goodness! I can't believe I have a 6 year-old!) She usually says "please" and "thank you." "May I please" or "Will you please." We're still working on knowing when to speak (ie. not interrupting) but sometimes I feel bad for her because she'd have to wait for a really long time to speak if she waited for a pause. :-)

The funny one that recently earned a spot amongst her most commonly used phrases is "No thank you." This phrase has brought her unanticipated power and she's starting to use it quite frequently.

"Solana, go get your black shoes for that outfit. They'll match perfectly." "No thank you. I think I'll wear my pink ones." "Yes, those also match. That's fine."

"Here Solana. Have some of these carrots." "No thank you. I'll just have an apple, instead." "Well, an apple is also healthy. I guess that's ok."

"Will you please watch Chloe while I go get dressed?" "No thank you. I'm too busy playing." (I guess I did form it as a question...) "Alright."

So far she's succesfully tightroped between personal choice and disobedience. You gotta give her credit. It's a fine line she walks and I'm impressed that she's navigated it so well. Clever one she is :-) I'm curious to know what will compel me to limit this power and exactly how I'll do it. I do admire her but she can't "no thank you" her way out of everything, you know.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Stephen Parrish

An old friend from Germany recently asked me if it would be ok for him to write an essay inspired by Leila. His name is Stephen Parrish. He used to be my boss and we were out of touch for about 9 years until I found him on Facebook. He's a published author (his novel, Tavernier Stones, is really good) and a blogger. Of course I agreed. As you'll read in his essay, his daughter was also born very premature. He's followed our story since I was pregnant with the twins and obviously felt a connection. I love his essay and his message. It's beautiful. Please take a read.

Stephen Parrish - Leila Marie

After Steve posted this essay he notified me that, inspired by my story, a prolific author decided to write a book about her life experiences (including a miscarriage). Another friend told me that her cousin lost her full-term son a few days after he was born. Her family wasn't incredibly supportive and told her she could "have more kids." She finally got the nerve to share pictures of her son and the blog "really made her very, very happy--it put into words what she had been feeling." It's amazing how many people Leila has touched. She's one amazing little angel. I'm so thankful for her...and to Steve and anyone who keeps Leila alive in their thoughts and words.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Solana's 6th Birthday!

Solana turned 6 last Wednesday. We had a lovely three-part celebration. First, she had her number 6 pancake. This is a new tradition I started last year after seeing another friend do it.

Then Dave took her to the movies after school and she got to choose dinner. To be perfectly honest, I was kind of hoping she'd choose McDonald's. We don't go there anymore and she often asks for it. She chose Brio. I think it's a chain - an Italian Grill. Something like that. It's really good. We didn't want to go to Brio for three reasons:
1. We JUST ate there on Sunday.
2. Dave and I had fancy dinner plans for Thursday. We don't normally eat out three times in a week and I, for one, wasn't anxious to know what this would do to my weekly pre-Mexico weigh-in.
3. It's not super expensive but it's not cheap. Definitely not the kind of meal we eat twice a week.
Dave tried to talk her out of it when they went to the movies. There's a sandwich shop at the Greene called Potbelly's that makes PB&J's (Solana's all-time favorite food) and he tried to entice her with that. But she was determined. I reminded Dave before they left to let her have the final say and he wasn't able to sway her (I think I could have). So Chloe and I met them at Brio. We sat down to order and what did she ask for? PB&J. Grrrrr. Of course, I wouldn't let her have pizza because she'd just had it Sunday (and would have it at Kim's house the next day) so her choices were limited. She ended up with spaghetti (which is what we had at home the night before). I was less than pleased but it was her birthday so I wasn't going to argue. The girl can survive one week of pasta/pizza overload, I suppose. Toward the end of dinner she declared that we'd definitely need to go to the sandwich shop next time we're out. Dave and I looked at eachother with heavy lids. Sometimes your kid knows how to drive you crazy - even on their birthday. Anyway, she got a dessert and was happy. Little squirt.

Chloe also enjoyed our dinner out. She only threw her glasses on the floor 3 or 4 times...

The big celebration was Saturday. Solana had her birthday party at the Princess Tea Room. This was a big deal! Solana was very excited. First, we waited in the foyer for all the girls to arrive. They peeked out the door and screeched with excitement every time a car pulled up. It was soooo cute!

Then the went upstairs and each sat at their own vanity.

Upstairs, they took turns picking out their princess gowns and getting a dab of eye shadow and lip gloss. It was a long wait for some of the girls but they put on their best princess manners and waited patiently. I took a picture of each girl as they came out of the dressing room and after just one or two girls they started automatically coming up to me to pose for their pictures. Soooo cute! Here is Solana admiring her makeup.

Chloe joined in on the fun. She was even dressed for the party!

Afer they were all dolled up the red carpet came out and the disco ball lit up. They chose names like "Purple," "Cupcake," "Princess," and "Emerald." The hostess announced each one and they walked the red carpet striking a pose at the end of the carpet. The first few girls struck some amazing poses while the last few pretty much just ran to their seats. We cheered, "oooh-ed," and "aaaahh-ed" each one.

Then they filed downstairs for their craft. They each decorated a little purse with stickers and their name was drawn on by the hostesses.

Finally, tea time! This place is decorated so pretty. I loved it. They had cheese, crackers, cucumber, and fruit, I believe. The hostesses went around serving them. "Rectangle or circle cracker?" "Circle, please." They poured water or lemonade into their china tea cups. As they ate they were read "Goldalicious."

The adults and Chloe hung out in the foyer during tea time.

Then Happy Birthday and cupcakes. Yum!

Finally, back upstairs for gifts.

Chloe got to crawl around upstairs. She loved it!

They played freeze dance while they went one by one into the dressing room to change back. I can't even tell you how cute these girls were doing their best ballerina/princess moves. The cool thing about this age is that they were ALL dancing and loving it. No self-consciousness what-so-ever. I loved it! They had a blast!

Good birthday!