Wednesday, November 30, 2011

That's What Solana Said - November

Solana hurt her hand during recess. She hurt her fingernail and pulled it back a little or something. She told the tale pretty dramatically. "It was like totally horrifying!"

That's What Chloe Said - November

Current Favorite Book: Horns to Toes and In Between
Previous Favorites Include: Pat The Bunny, Moo Baa La La La

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Working on Eating

We've been working with Chloe on using a spoon and fork for months now. She's very interested in the idea of feeding herself but she just can't seem to get the dip-and-scoop motion to work for her. She'll take her spoon and tap it furiously into her food but just can't scoop any food onto it. Months. Every single day I put a spoon into her hand and we work on it. For three meals a day. It's becoming tiresome. But on the bright side, she can put the spoon in her mouth. She gets angry if I try to take the spoon away from her and sometimes she won't let me guide her hand to do the scoop so we sometimes use two spoons (or forks). I'll get the food onto one utensil and hand it to her. As she puts it into her mouth I'll sneak the other utensil from her other hand.

Chloe's Occupational Therapist made these nifty bent spoons and forks. They're supposed to help her get the food into her mouth easier by requiring less of a wrist bend to point it toward her mouth. Getting it into her mouth isn't the problem, though...
The bent spoons can only be used with one hand, and we're not sure whether Chloe is a righty or a lefty, so we have some of each. (Solana's a strong lefty so we're suspicious that Chloe will be, too. Well, I'm suspicious...Dave's pleased.) The bent spoons seem to make feeding time even more difficult and frustrating for Chloe, though, because she likes switching back and forth. They were briefly interesting but didn't help so we've given up on them.

All of this self-feeding business has really put a cramp in Chloe's food consumption. We spend so much time and energy trying to eat that it creates a bit of tension for her and she's acting out a bit. She'll refuse to eat unless certain conditions are met. And with her limited communication skills it takes a bit of work to figure out her conditions. The other day I couldn't figure out what she wanted. Do you want to hold this fork? Do you want to try and scoop? Can I just feed you? How about another spoon? Do you want a drink? She refused all my suggestions and began wailing and flailing at the table. I was at a loss. Then Solana offered to feed Chloe. I resigned to another seat and Solana moved over to the Mommy chair.

Chloe opened wide and happily took a bite. And another. And another. Little sister ate it up...literally.

In the meantime, Solana was taking bites to demonstrate proper eating technique for Chloe and finished her own food in record time.

Big sister asked me if I was jealous. "A little," I admitted. But I was also thrilled.

"Teeeez" (Cheese)

Today was the third time Solana took over the reigns. She wasn't quite as successful as the first couple of times but still did better than I.

It's nice to have a little helper around. I'm thankful for my Solana. I am hopeful for my Chloe.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Solana the First Grader

I met with Solana's first grade teacher last week for the Parent-Teacher conference. I don't have a sitter so I brought the girls. The teacher said it would be fine. She showed me some of Solana's work and asked Solana to get a book, bring it over, and read it to me. It was kind of funny. I didn't know what to say. She looked at me like I was supposed to be amazed and thrilled. But Solana regularly reads books from the library that are more difficult than that. "That was great, mija. Thank you." Then she explained to me that Solana can easily read books that the students should be able to read at the end of first grade. I wasn't terribly surprised. As much reading as we do together at home she definitely has lots of experience with books. Not to mention the fact that she's pretty brilliant, in general. The teacher really didn't have much to say. She didn't "gush" about Solana like I expected but I get the feeling she's just not the gushing type. She did say that Solana's doing great.

-I asked if she pays attention, follows instructions, gets along with the other students.
-Yes. Yes. Yes.

-Is there anything in particular we need to be working on at home?
-Just do what you're doing.

-I noticed that Solana doesn't form some of her letters correctly (pencil strokes aren't perfectly sequential or she starts the letter at the bottom, etc.) and sometimes writes numbers backwards...
-Yes, but that's normal. She'll get there. Working on that at home is fine.

It was weird to leave a meeting without an IFSP, recommendations for exercises or skill building, diagrams, special areas of concern, etc. Solana's so easy. Sometimes I forget how lucky we are to have her. And just look at that face! Don't you just want to pinch her cheeks and give her a big kiss right on her forehead?

Monday, November 14, 2011

Headband Hairstyle

This is how you keep a headband in place! Instructions here.

Soft Lenses a Bust

We put the soft lenses in on Friday. I had to check Chloe's eyes at least every 15 minutes because they wouldn't stay in place. And, by "check her eyes," I mean pry her eyes open to get a really good look because the soft lenses are really hard to see on her eyeball. Then stick my finger in her eyes to move the lenses back up from underneath her bottom eyelid (where they seemed determined to be.) Chloe is usually pretty good about eye drops, insertion, and removal of lenses. I don't usually get resistance. By the end of day one she was kicking and screaming. And I can't blame her. After the first hour Dave was ready to give up. "You can't keep this up. It's ridiculous. We just need to go back to the hard lenses." But I was determined. I had already called the Vision Center to complain and they asked me to keep with these lenses for at least 2 days. Checking them now wouldn't do any good because her eyes need to adjust to them.

By the end of day 1 her left lens popped out 4 times.
1. Found after a hands/knees search of the bedroom, hallway, living room, dining room.
2. I saw it pop out on its own as Chloe ate breakfast.
3. I found it in the dishwasher. Don't ask.
4. We went out for Solana's end of the year pizza party. I checked her eyes and gave her drops about a million times during the party and 10 minutes before we left. One was missing when we got home.

That was it. Forget it. We're going back to hard lenses. We're waiting right now for the backup pair to come back from getting cleaned...

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Soft Lenses Begin Tomorrow

Fingers crossed! I've been feeling waffley about switching Chloe to soft lenses. If you recall, we were having a horrible time with Chloe's hard lenses popping out and I'd spent about 5 hours on my hands and knees searching for contacts the week prior to October 6th. We found a few but completely lost three. We met with the doctor and vision center on Oct 6th and decided to switch her from gas permeable (hard) lenses back to soft.

The vision center went to work finding a company that would give us free lenses until we found the correct fit for Chloe. But I decided to keep Chloe in her hard lenses until they were lost. No reason to just throw them away. After all, the purpose in switching is to avoid wasting money. So an entire 5 weeks pass and Chloe pops out a lens a total of 4 times. That's it. Four times in 5 weeks! And we found the missing lens in about 2-4 minutes each time (Solana was so proud because she found it twice.) Isn't that the way it always goes, though? As soon as you decided to make a change from something completely awful that awful thing becomes not so bad. I began to second guess myself. Was I being overly dramatic? Was I crying in front of Chloe's therapists because I don't have enough patience? No. That's just the way it goes.

Well, Chloe finally lost a contact today. Whew! I thought that was NEVER gonna happen. Funny story. It happened at Old Navy: Solana and I are walking around looking at the floor because we're sure we can find it. (Delusuional?) The manager asks us if we're finding everything ok. I'm embarrassed and start nodding my head but Solana is anxious to tell everyone in the store that her baby sister lost a contact. The next thing I know, half the Old Navy team is walking around with their heads down. We finally give up and the Manager, very sympathetic to my plight because she has two middle school boys in contacts, takes my number just in case. We pay and leave. Half an hour later I get a call from the manager. The introduces herself on the phone and I think, "NO WAY!!! She found it!" But no. "Is this Cyndi? Hi. You left your wallet on the counter when you paid." Doh! So it was a blessing that Chloe lost her contact in the store because otherwise I wouldn't have left my phone number with the manager?

ANYWAY. We'll put the soft lenses in tomorrow. Wish us luck! The insertion and removal of soft lenses is a totally different process than we're used to. We were really good at the hard lenses. Let's hope this transition is an easy one. And that the lenses STAY PUT!

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Aloo Gobi - A Vegetable Miracle

Chloe still eats almost all her fruits and vegetables in puree form. There are very few exceptions:

Raisins, prunes, small apple cubes (she'll only eat a few at a sitting), sweet potato fries, ummmmm.....I think that's it. She'd probably eat other dried fruit, probably banana chips, too. But those always seem to have added sugar and I'm not interested in that.

I puree everything else: peas, carrots, berries, bananas, mango, peach, pear, asparagus, broccoli, onion, fennel, cabbage, corn, you name it. Note: Most of these are part of recipes that I cook. I don't just steam plain cabbage and puree it for her. I can usually get away with mashing any type of squash or potato. But, for the most part, Chloe is not in the least interested in eating pieces of fruit or vegetable. As soon as the first piece hits her mouth her tongue sticks out to block further entrance past her lips. I usually give it a shot and then head back to the kitchen to mix it up for her.

Tonight I put a bowl of Arti Sequiera's Aloo Gobi in front of her. This is an Indian version of Cauliflower and Potatoes cooked in a simple wet masala. We love it and I've made it several times. The potatoes and cauliflower are pretty soft after cooking. I expected to mash them with my fork and maybe add some yogurt to make it creamier for her but I usually at least try it whole before mashing/pureeing. (Maybe a mustard bowl wasn't the best choice for a picture.)

I stabbed a little piece of potato for Chloe to try and was just a little bit surprised that she ate it. She does eat sweet potato fries so I wasn't floored. But then I stabbed a little piece of cauliflower for her. She gobbled it up and went in for more! Now that was a surprise. Ok. Maybe she'll eat a couple of bites before she says 'no.' I let her go and she ended up eating the whole plate! I was so excited - doing big eyes at Dave and wiggling around in my seat. It may seem weird but this is SUCH A BIG DEAL! It wasn't the fact that she was eating Indian spices - I make Indian food about once a week. It was the fact that she ate a non-mushed or pureed bite of vegetable! She stabbed it with a fork, put it in her mouth, chewed, and swallowed...repeatedly!

Seemingly little things are big things around here :-)

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Bedtime Lovies

When Solana was a toddler she had several comfort items that she insisted on having in order to go to bed:
1. Purple Blankie
2. Tigger (one of those tiny blankies with the doll stuck on the end)
3. Pooh (just like Tigger)
4. Pacifier (until she turned 2)
5. Puppy (a German Shepherd stuffed animal)

She spent the night at my sister, Leticia's, house one night when we went to Mexico and left her in in Texas. Leticia was laughing because every time she got Solana into bed Solana would remember another must-have and send Leticia away for it. She must have spent a good 15 minutes running around the house gathering Solana's lovies one at a time. :-)

Solana still requires "Purple." Her (purple is a 'she') nickname has shortened over the years but her importance has not. The other lovies have fallen by the wayside. Every once in a while she'll choose some random stuffed animal or doll that she absolutely must have in order to go to sleep. Last night it was a little otter. But then Chloe expressed interest in the otter today so Solana gave it to her. Tonight it was only Purple.

Chloe recently chose her lovies. They are:
1. Gumum (glow worm - his face lights up and he plays music when she pushes his belly)
2. Turtle (the shell is covered in star-shaped holes and, when turned on, it shoots star-shaped lights all over her bed and ceiling
3. Pacifier. I'm actually not sure if she needs this. I still give it to her but I kind of suspect I could take it away. She has three. Two are little blue horses and one is a duck. Each with an aqua-colored hospital style pacifier stuck to its mouth.

Every time I lay her down she says, "Gumum?" "Turtle?" I decided to take a picture of her with her lovies tonight. She said, "Teese" when I pulled the camera out.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Princess Braids 2 Ways

One of my old stand-by hairdos for Solana is something we call "Princess Braids." She's worn this hairdo for every school picture since she was 3, I think. It's pretty simple and I can do it quickly enough that we can do it before school. Part the hair down the center and start french braids on either side but only use the hair on the top of her head. Finish both sides with traditional braids to the back and secure together with a band.

For my variation I parted her hair first into a side-part. Then, on the side with more hair, I parted again from the original part down to the ear. This created a strip of hair about an inch wide along her hair line. I pulled all the rest of the hair back into a pony to keep it out of the way and proceeded to french braid from the part down to her ear. Once I got down to her ear I just braided the rest in a traditional braid and secured it with an elastic. Then I went to the other side and basically did the same thing. The main part is on this side of her head so I wouldn't have as much hair as the other side if I did it exactly the same. I "freestyled" without the additional part (to the ear) and pulled more hair into the braid so that it ended up being about the same thickness as the first braid. I tied both braids together in the back and voila! Side-part Princess Braid.

I looked at a lot of pictures from the "hairstyles for girls blog" but didn't see anything exactly like this. The link above is something like what I did but she ends it differently. I was definitely inspired by their blog and wouldn't have come up with this without having learned from them.

Fall Leaves

I took this picture from our bedroom window. Dave is carving our Halloween pumpkins a few days before the 31st. I love the way the leaves make this scene look and the way he's concentrating and Monty is watching him. This picture makes me feel happy.

Elastic Bands In a Row

This hairstyle is such a simple concept. I can't believe it never occurred to me before. Chloe's hair is pretty fine. It always slips out of elastics when I pull it back and she ends up with tons of fly-aways/psuedo bangs in her eyes. This style stays put all day (in fact, she actually wore this one two days in a row) without falling out! I love it! It's also nice with hats. We wear a lot of hats around here during the winter. This will keep her hair back so we don't have to wrestle it back into her hat or hood. This is how she wore her hair under the hood of her bumblebee costume (notice the black outfit and yellow bands). :-)

Here's the link to my inspiration with instructions.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Soccer 2011

Solana just finished up her second season of soccer. She played last fall and we were sure that would be her one and only season. We made her finish the season but had no intention of ever signing her up for soccer again. We skipped the Spring season and then she started asking to play again in the Fall. I told her, "no" several times and reminded her of how much she disliked soccer - never wanting to go to games, shaking her head when her coach asked her to go in so another player could come out of a game, complaining that it was too cold, etc. But she was persistent and insisted that she would like soccer this year and try her best. Finally, the registration deadline arrived and she was still SURE she wanted to play soccer so we signed her up.

The year started with a one week soccer camp in August. For five days she played soccer for three hours. I think it was a great way to start the season - giving her a little more confidence going in. The camp ended with a visit from the Fire Dept. The kids were soaked and had a BLAST!

Solana's team was the Orange team. She was number 27. She was one of the lesser skilled and slower players on the team and never really had an opportunity to dribble the ball down the field. But she found her niche. Solana was really good at getting into the middle of a jumble of girls and kicking the ball out for her teammates to take down the field.

One of her big highlights for the year was a great save while in goalie position. She ran out and jumped on the ball before the opposing team could take a shot! Another highlight was a great takeaway near the opposing team's goal. She kicked it straight to a teammate who made a goal with one kick! She was very proud of that one!

Solana's team was pretty great and they won all but one game this season. Then the won both of their games in the playoffs and made it to the Championship game! Solana was team captain for the final game. Here she is having words with the umpire before the game. I'm not sure what she was telling him but it looked pretty important.

That game was just about the most exciting game any of the parents had ever seen. The teams were pretty evenly matched and the opposing team made two goals at the end of the 4th quarter to tie it up. They went into sudden death overtime and then double overtime without goalies. Our throats were sore from yelling and cheering on the girls. Solana, unfazed by the excitement got hot during the game and decided to take off her turtle neck from under her t-shirt. Easy enough to do without taking off her t-shirt. But then she decided to take her stretch pants off from under her shorts. Her coach told her not to but she was undeterred. The coach didn't know how hot she felt. At one point during the game I looked across the field to the sideline and saw Solana stripping off her pants while sitting in the folding chair! The asst. coach later told me that she turned around to see Solana sitting pants free on the chair and pulling her t-shirt down over her panties. "I snuck them off" she proudly exclaimed. She helped Solana get her shorts back on and then Solana felt able to go back onto the field to play. Un-believable. I don't know where this kid comes from.

They won.
We're #1!

Solana couldn't wait to go to school the next day and tell her friends that she's one of the "best" soccer players!

In the end we're glad we signed her up and she already says she wants to play again next season. Dave thinks he may even try his hand at coaching. I hope he does. I bet it would be so much fun for both of them.