Monday, October 31, 2011

Halloween 2011

Happy Halloween from Solana and Chloe Bea!

That's What Chloe Said - October

Me: Chloe, who says, "Moo?"
Chloe: Mooo. Cow.

Me: Who says, "woof woof woof?"
Chloe: wHoo wHoo wHoo. Bobo.

Me: That's right. Bluebell is a dog. Dogs say woof woof woof. Who says, "Meow?"
Chloe: Meow (super high pitched). Killy Cat!

Me: Who says "Baa?"
Chloe: Baa! Heep.

Me: Who says, "Ribbit?"
Chloe: Hog (frog)

Me: Who says, "Oink Oink?"
Chloe: Oink Oink. Pig.

Me: Who says, "Neeeeigh?"
Chloe: Neeeigh! Horse.

Me: Who says, "Whaa Whaa Whaa!" (To the tune of "The Wheels On The Bus")
Chloe: Whaa Whaa. Baby!

That's What Solana Said - October

Dave and I were having a private conversation in the kitchen. Solana was close by so we were talking in code. Although she never hears a direct request or instruction she always manages to hear what we say to each other. :-) She walks over to us and says something like this, "I know what you were talking about."
"Oh yeah. What were we talking about."
"You were saying that -something-something-..." (I forget what it was actually about.) She was wrong, of course. Our code language is that good. But we weren't about to correct her version of our conversation. We secretly smiled at each other and verified her account.
"Yep! You're absolutely right! Very good. How did you figure that out?"
"I'm just really smart and I know! N.O." It was all we could do to not burst out laughing. We couldn't bear to upset that proud little smile.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Music Enrichment

I've been giving Solana piano lessons ever since we got our piano. We try to have a lesson every Monday but we've missed a few Mondays here and there. I enjoy them, though. Being a former piano and flute player for many many years I love it that I can teach her a little bit about music. I have a secret hope that she'll pick up my flute one day and become a band nerd like me but have a feeling she'll probably follow her own path. Solana came home with a note from school today:

Dear Parent,

It is my pleasure as the music teacher...

I am pleased at the program opportunities that we are able to present within regular music classes. However, some children exhibit exceptional talents and I have designed a program to nurture these abilities. Your child is one of those chosen to participate in a select group of children as part of a musical enrichment group. He/she was identified based on one or more of the following criteria:

-pitch: able to match pitch quite well in a normal child range
-auditory discernment: able to hear differences in musical sounds, pitches, and
-aural language receptivity: demonstrating he/she can easily learn a song by rote
-hand/eye coordination: able to use a visual chart as a cue for playing an instrument
Only a small number of children have been selected to participate...

I also sang in the choir when I was in elementary school. We had to audition and I clearly remember standing beside my teacher and singing a few notes after she played them on the piano. Not all children who tried out made the choir. I wonder if my parents cried when they received a letter saying that I made it. I admit that I teared up as I read Solana's.

She read my enthusiasm and jumped up and down when I explained what the note meant. "Does this mean I get to go on stage?!?!?"

Monday, October 24, 2011

Thursday, October 20, 2011


I walked into Chloe's room when she woke from her nap and she greeted me with, "Poopie."

"What? No way! Do you have poopies in your diaper?" I picked her up and checked. Yep! I know this isn't the typical milestone or baby book note but I'm just so excited about it.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Split French Braid Headband & Pigtails

Solana has already lost a few bows at school this year. It's weird. They don't spontaneously fall out when she's with us and they never fall out at school when they're in the front of her hair. Only when they're in the back. For this reason I flipped her hair forward (contrary to the instructions) and left out the bows.

I've taken to fixing her hair before bed. These pictures were taken after a night's sleep and a full day at school. Her hair's a little fuzzy in the back but it held up amazingly well. Split French Braid Headband & Pigtails.

Criss Cross Pigtails

My friend, Megan, has posted a number of cute hairdos on her blog. Her daughter, Kinley, is an adorable model and inspired me to try some new hairstyles on Solana. One day I opened up Megans blog (Justin and Megan) and pulled up all her hair entries. Solana and I looked through them and she decided to try the heart. It was really cute but also kind of hilarious. Kinley has sweet straight find blond hair and ended up with a precious heart on top of her head. Solana, on the other hand, has just about the thickest mane of hair I've ever had the pleasure of handling. She ended up with a huge fat heart tiara sticking out of her head. She liked it so we were all happy. Afterwards, she asked if I'd post it on the blog so that other little girls could see it and do their hair like hers. "Maybe." (That's what I say when I don't want to tell her "no.")

Since then we've been trying bunches of hairstyles and Solana keeps asking if I'll put them on the blog. I don't want to get into the business of a hair blog but I do find myself trying to remember which hairstyles we've tried and liked. I'm going to start posting them here. Maybe they'll inspire someone else to try a cute 'do. Mainly they'll keep me organized.

And if you're interested in trying any of these I'll point you to my inspiration. As it turns out there are a bunch of cute little girl hair blogs out there!

Chloe's hairstyle for today is called Criss Cross Pigtails. I really like this one because it keeps the hair out of her eyes and is pretty quick and easy. Click on the link for instructions.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Sourdough Bread

One of the super duper cool things about keeping a blog is that I've made some amazing friends by doing it. Not a lot. Just three. Two of them also lost one of their twins and I talk to them a lot. Email, Facebook, even the telephone every once in a while. (Their blogs are Catching up with Daphne and Justin and Megan.) The third had a preemie and, I'm not sure how it started, but we began emailing each other. They just moved from Texas to N. Korea and I'm loving her blog. Her blog is the Hillbergs and I list it on mine but she has it set to private.

Anyway, she read my bread post and decided to try Healthy Bread. Then she offered to send me some of her sourdough starter from N. Korea. I'd never tried sourdough bread before so I was pretty nervous. I think I spent a good 5 hours reading about sourdough starter and watching videos about how to care for it, ie. not kill it, etc. After just I a few days reviving and caring for the starter she sent me (all the way from Korea!) I finally made my first loaves.

They turned out great! I'm so excited about it! The only bad thing is that they're mainly all-purpose flour and I feel guilty the whole time I'm serving and eating it. I saved some of the starter in the fridge and, as it turns out, sourdough starter can live forever in your fridge. You just need to feed it every once in a while. The only other bad thing is that the bread's super soft and lighter than my HBI5. Dave (who happens to be from San Francisco) suggested that this would be better for sandwiches. Hmmm... I didn't respond. :-)

Trying To Feed Herself

I have been very very very lazy about teaching Chloe to feed herself. It's just too easy and clean for me to feed her. I finally realized that I'm borderline negligent on the subject. I really need to buckle down and work on this.

Day 1

Oh the messiness! Killin' me! I remember mentioning to Dave when Solana was a toddler, "It's weird how some people think it's so cute and funny when their kids make a huge mess at the table. I just don't get that." Poor Solana. She was probably the neatest toddler EVER! I'm way more easy going nowadays....twitch....cringe...

Therapy at the Center

Chloe began a new form of therapy last week. In the past, her early intervention program therapists always came to our house. But, with preschool looming in less than a year I thought it would be a good idea for her to begin a program in a group setting. Every Wednesday we will go to the PACE Southview Center and participate in a playgroup for one hour. It's a small group. Right now there are only two other little girls in there with her. I'm also in there with her and participate in every step. It seems like a good transition opportunity. (In addition, Chloe's vision therapist will still come to our house once a month.)

The first playgroup went pretty well, I think. They start out in the gross motor area. It's like a gym covered with a padded floor. And there are different climbing opportunities scattered all around. It's nice because they're all squishy. Chloe loved it. She ran all around investigating. There are also tricycles. She kept climbing onto the seat but her legs aren't long enough to reach the pedals of the smaller ones.

The transition from one activity to the next always involves a song and a special shoe box. Inside the shoe box is an object that symbolizes the next activity. When they began singing the "box" song the other little girls ran over to see what was inside. Chloe couldn't have cared less. She was busy exploring. The next activity was music. Eventually, I coerced her over to the music room. They sang songs, signed the words, and shook maracas. Chloe seemed to enjoy music time. I was struggling since I didn't know the words to any of the songs and probably looked/sounded hilarious trying to sing along but that's my job, right? :-)

Then there was some free exploration time followed by snack. And it's a good thing...because I'm not sure I could have otherwise coerced Chloe from her fun again. "Snack" is a magic word for her. We all washed hands and the kids sat at the table. Chloe was offered a choice. Goldfish or Graham Cracker. She chose Graham Cracker because she's familiar with the word "cracker" but doesn't know what a Goldfish is. She LOVED it. "Mmmrh CAkah," Chloe said, crumbs flying from her over-stuffed mouth. We all laughed. She was not shy about requesting more and barely shoved the last cracker in her mouth before ordering up seconds, thirds, and fourths.

Next was Play-Doh. Chloe touched it once and made a face like someone farted. She wasn't interested so she just explored the rest of the toys. Finally, it was time to go.

I think she really enjoyed playgroup. In fact, I felt kind of bad that she's been so sheltered and hasn't done anything like that before. I think it'll be good for her. The only difficult part right now is keeping toys out of her mouth. This kid wants to explore everything with her mouth! I put a bunch of toys in the "to be washed" bin. She's sneaky. It'll be interesting to see her learn the routine. I wonder if/when she'll run over to the box to see what's inside. Will she happily go to the next activity or will I have to do my best "this is going to be fun" song and dance every week? We'll see.....

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Cinnamon Crescent Rolls with Cream Cheese Icing

Once a week, usually Saturday or Sunday, Dave runs out for breakfast. It's fun and a treat but I'm usually cringing at the stuff he brings back. Not because of his choices - he always asks for requests - but just because it didn't come out of my kitchen. I'm sure that, whatever it is, sweet bread, breakfast sandwiches, or quiches from Panera, bagels and muffins from My Favorite Muffin, donuts from Bob's donut shop around the corner (although he hasn't done that in quite a long time) it's fully of junk. I'm usually uneasy and fidgety after we eat it. I think I've become a food control freak.

Anyway, I saw this post from healthy bread last week and tried it. Sort of. I didn't have Rosemary so I just used garlic powder. The crescent rolls were really yummy and actually super easy to make. Solana even rolled a few herself. Then, last night, I was flipping through my HBI5 book and found the recipe for Cinnamon Crescent Rolls with Cream Cheese Icing. Yum! What a great way for us to have our weekend treat but with whole grains and me being in control of the sugar and fat. Yay!

There are a few enriched doughs in the book that have sugar and oil in the dough. Challah, Brioche, etc. The Crescent recipe says you can use those doughs or the Master Recipe. I think the Master Recipe is a little healthier and more versatile. So I mixed up a batch last night.

The rolls were a hit! I'm not sure if Dave feels like he's missing out on our usual splurge but I feel like we had our morning sugary treat without going over board. And that makes me happy.

The first few I iced looked like this.

The last one looked like this:
I have a ton of the icing leftover. They say it works great on their carrot bread. I guess I have no choice. Carrot bread here I come!

Friday, October 7, 2011

Speech Eval and Social Security

Chloe is considered "disabled" by the Social Security Administration. I honestly don't remember doing it, but at some point during her NICU stay I signed up for Social Security benefits for her. We actually signed up for a bunch of different benefits - a bunch of forms were handed to us by the hospital social services coordinator, "Fill out these forms. You may qualify for something." We didn't really qualify for anything because Dave makes too much. (Thankfully.) But Chloe did qualify for Social Security based on her disability. She started getting $30 a month and we were told that it would last the length of her hospital stay. I wasn't sure what $30 a month was supposed to help with but I dutifully filled out the forms they sent every six months or so stating that the money was spent on Chloe. The $30 kept coming and I didn't argue.

They recently sent a long questionnaire for me to complete. They want to know where Chloe is developmentally. I sent it in and then they said they'd like Chloe to meet with a physician for an assessment to help determine whether or not Chloe still qualifies for disability. We visited the doctor and it was a fun play date for Chloe. I was curious to hear his assessment. He seemed impressed and stated that he "could mark her down in a few areas because of her vision" but wasn't allowed tell me more. I'd have to contact SS to get a copy of his report. Then they sent another letter with an appointment for Chloe to meet with a Speech Therapist. We went to that appointment today.

I know I shouldn't be wasting my time with these appointments. I mean, it's $30. Really. But, honestly, they're kind of fun and interesting and I like seeing how professionals interact with Chloe and how she responds. Plus, I always get ideas from watching them. And I'm sooo curious to hear what they have to say about her.

I had a good feeling about the speech session when I heard comments like, "Wow. You're just breezing through this test, Chloe."
  • She showed Chloe a book with pictures and asked her to point to different objects: shoe, bear, ball, etc.
  • Then she showed pictures to Chloe and asked her what she saw: duck, baby, spoon ("eat"), etc.
  • She gave Chloe a toy bear and asked her to point to it's eyes, nose, foot, hand, etc.
  • She asked Chloe to point to her own shoe, sock, shirt, pants, etc.
  • She asked Chloe to "give me the bear," "put the block in the cup," "feed the bear."
  • Chloe also showed off her two-word phrases: "up please," "thank you welcome," "more cereal."
  • Chloe's a little parrot right now and imitated 3 and 4-word phrases - very impressive.
  • There was also a part where she tested Chloe's pronunciation. She showed Chloe lots of pictures and said the corresponding word. Chloe imitated and she noted normal pronunciation errors. Nothing exciting there. At one point, though, she did say, "Wow. I have some 9 year-olds who can't even say that." Maybe not too impressive considering those 9 year-olds have documented speech problems but still... :-)
At the end of the session I asked where she stands. And she said....get this....SHE'S IN NORMAL RANGE. HA! This little one is amazing!!! I swear she just started focusing on her language in July and she's in normal range?!?!?! She's been a sponge lately and loves learning language. Solana may have a little competition in the "who can talk the most" category. :-) I realize that we still have a lot of work to do with Chloe. This doesn't exactly mean that she's "normal" now and no longer has special needs. But come on! What an amazing report! I'm so proud of her.

Thursday, October 6, 2011


We're enjoying a wonderfully sunny and warm week in the Dayton area. After at least a couple of weeks with highs in the 60's and a good amount of rain, everyone is heading outdoors to soak up some warmth and sun. Apparently, the butterflies in our pavilion sensed the warmth, too! They surprised us when three of them emerged Tuesday.

I contacted Solana's teacher, Mrs. Eckhart, and she invited us to release them behind the school, where she keeps a butterfly garden. This is where the class releases their class butterflies. I carefully gathered the butterflies into a safe container and we headed off to school.

Solana was so excited. She showed off her butterflies to all of her friends and they gathered around talking in their excited first grade way. Mrs. Eckhart thought it best to release them after lunch, after the sun chased away the morning cold.

With all the excitement of the morning (taking Solana to school and transferring the butterflies) I totally forgot to take pictures. I took a couple on my phone in the classroom but was disappointed with the quality.

I sent the picture to Mrs Eckhart and she replied, "Thanks! I'll show it to our class right after lunch!We will release them after they see the wonderful picture...Solana is so very proud...this means a lot to her!" Almost made me cry.

The next day we had another surprise! This time we decided to release it at home. And I got a good picture. Solana was really excited because it crawled on her finger before flying off. Isn't he beautiful? Solana said it's a male because of the blue. It's crazy to think that they were once chubby green caterpillars. Amazing!

Back to Soft Lenses

We visited Chloe's Eye doctor today. And her Vision Therapist (VS), Linda, came with us. We spoke about the fact that Chloe is turning her head so that she appears to be using her left eye more but, after looking at her, Dr. Bloom still thinks she's finding her "null point." Sometimes people with Nystagmus (involuntary shaking of the eyes) can turn their head slightly until they find the sweet spot where their eyes calm down and they see better. That sweet spot is called the null point. So we're still not going to do any patching. And that's ok with me.

We also spoke about the fact that Chloe is losing lenses often. They fall out completely on their own without her rubbing them at all. In fact, Chloe's Early Intervention Specialist (EIS) witnessed one pop right out of her eye as we were sitting and playing. All she did was blink! The plan: we're going to try soft lenses again. My stomach is still a little queasy at the idea. The reason we switched from soft to hard lenses before was because we were losing too many soft lenses. Hard lenses supposedly stay put better. But both the doctor and vision center believe that we can get a better fit now that Chloe's older and bigger. It's a plan and we're willing to give it a shot. I've spent probably a good 5 hours on my hands and knees this past week looking for lenses (I'm NOT exaggerating). In fact, Chloe lost her third lens in a week 30 minutes before the VS and EIS arrived for a visit on Tuesday. I was so frustrated that I burst into tears when they arrived. That was slightly embarrassing, especially considering the fact that Chloe's new Occupational Therapist was with them. "Hi. Nice to meet you. I'm really not crazy. I promise." Fingers crossed on the soft lenses!

Otherwise, Chloe is doing great. We still don't know how well she can see. The good thing is that she compensates really really well. It's great that she has the ability to compensate without her vision. But you can see how it makes contact lens tracking difficult. Chloe's behavior doesn't change when she loses a contact. Heck, it doesn't even change when I take both of them out and before I can get her glasses on. She'll run off to play and I'm chasing her around saying, "Hey! Get back here little one! You can't even see!" You'd never know.

Her fine motor is improving. She loves looking at books and playing with her toys. We learned that balance is an issue with her and that's partly why she has no interest in stacking blocks and playing with small toys. So we put her in her little chair so that she's supported all around. And suddenly she was stacking and playing with blocks! She didn't have to worry about balancing herself so she could focus on what was in front of her. Amazing!

Chloe's VS is always complimenting me on how I interact with Chloe. She loves my frequent verbal cues and how I guide her with my words. I feel like I'm just talking to her the way any parent talks to a language-learning toddler. Maybe just a tad more since Linda once mentioned the importance of positioning words for vision-impaired children (in, out, up, down, on under). It's about body awareness and teaching them to know their place in their environment. But she is insistent. "I can really tell you work with her a lot, Cyndi." "Your verbal cues are so great." To the OT, "Cyndi is such a great parent. I show her a book one week and she's gone out and bought it by the next." I love hearing that, of course. But sometimes I don't even know what I've done to earn a sudden enthusiastic compliment. Today she said, "Cyndi, you should become a Vision Therapist. Your instinct is amazing. You have better instinct than most Vision Therapists I know." I'm writing this 1. to pat myself on the back in public; 2. so that Chloe will read this in the future and think I'm great. But also 3. because the seed is planted. And I know that's what Linda was doing. She keeps talking about retiring. The question is whether or not I feed and water it. Probably not...probably.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Pumpkin Patch

For about the past 5 years we've gone to the pumpkin patch every year to pick out our Halloween pumpkins. We love it. This year we went to Young's Jersey Dairy. We came here year before last, when Chloe was in the NICU, and I like it better than the one we visited last year. It was quite the experience with both girls running around enjoying themselves. We all had a fantastic time!

The visit started with the goats.
Solana LOVES petting the animals wherever we go.
I think Chloe will be just like her.

Then we went into the barn to check out the Jersey cows.
I was surprised they let everyone get so close to the milking cows. They only get milked once a day. Surprising because back when I was a cow there was no way I could go all day...
It was a chilly day but the sun was shining and that made for beautiful weather. We bundled the girls up. Chloe's wearing black stretch pants with her Fall-colored leg warmers, scarf knitted by Grammy, and strawberry shortcake hat. The coat is a hand-me-down from Solana. I LOVE that we kept all of Solana's clothes!!! I dread the day Chloe starts complaining about that.

They had a human powered pumpkin launcher. For $5 Dave got to shoot three pumpkins into the field. There was a big dumpster in the middle of the field and he got his first pumpkin right in it! Yay Daddy! He earned us a $5 coupon for lunch at the dairy restaurant. :-)

After Dave had his fun with the cannon we girls had some fun on the train. What am I going to do when Chloe's too big to ride with me? Do you think they'll let me go by myself? Chloe held on to that steering wheel the whole time!

La Familia Hendrickson heading over to the corn maze.
Our driver. There it is!

I'm going to eat you corn!
The girls took off running through the maze. It was pretty long and we probably spent a good half hour in there.

Chloe got a ride from Dave after a while. But she was trying to fall asleep up there so he had to put her down.
That's when she came up to me, "More Back. More Back." I knew exactly what she meant.

We finally made it over to the pumpkin patch. Solana asked if she could pull the wagon. Then little sister insisted on helping by pushing.

Every year we pick three pumpkins. A big one for Dave. A medium one for me, and a small one for Solana. Solana's small pumpkin gets bigger and bigger every year. We have two pumpkins growing in the garden at home. One of those will be Chloe's baby pumpkin.

It was a great day! We were there for about three and a half hours and loved every minute of it. I love this tradition and hope the girls remember it fondly when they get older.