Monday, December 22, 2008

Snow Day!

After working two weekends in a row, Michael finally had a weekend off the weekend before last. He spent most of the daylight hours Saturday and Sunday raking leaves, a chore which Gabi thoroughly enjoys because she gets to jump in all the piles. Both girls love to be outside, even though it has been extremely COLD here. Michael managed to bag about half of the leaves before it started raining, and it was time for evening church, anyway, so he just moved the rest next to the fence where the wind would be less likely to blow them into our neighbor's yard.

Bella helping rake leaves

The girls raking just like Daddy

Bella had her ENT appointment this morning. In taking the history, the doctor asked, "So, you're here because your pediatrician referred you, but how do YOU feel?" We admitted that we aren't really concerned because her condition has greatly improved since her birth, but it would be nice to get his opinion since Bella's laryngomalacia has persisted longer than expected. He explained that laryngomalacia typically disappears before 24 months if it'll go away on it's own (so we're still in that range), but he's seen it in 5-year-olds and 12-year-olds. He asked if Bella had any episodes of sleep apnea, and we do not think she has. However, she STILL doesn't sleep through the night (and she'll be 16 months old on Thursday!), so that could be a sign of sleep apnea. At this point, I am attributing her waking up to her cold and teething, so the ENT doctor said we'd just wait for her cold to go away and then note whether she is able to sleep all night. Then the doctor looked in her ears and found fluid (but no infection). For her language development, he wanted to schedule a recheck to make sure that the fluid didn't persist more than 3 months.

The doctor offered to scope Bella's throat so we could look at it, and I thought he was just offering it because we were there and might like to go home with some extra piece-of-mind, so I was about to decline. However, he was actually recommending the scope, so we ended up doing the procedure. We were told that the anesthetic nasal spray didn't taste good; however, Bella smiled and laughed and asked for more. Silly baby! She did, however, cry during the scope. A nurse held her still while the doctor snaked a long cord with a camera and light on the end through one nostril and down into her throat. Her crying should have made everything move and open up more, but it did not. Bella's aryepiglottic folds are so tight that we couldn't see past them, so we didn't get a view of the vocal chords. Also, her mucosa was thicker than it ought to have been, which is a sign of her reflux. So we definitely need to continue the Prevacid, but that should help both her reflux and her laryngomalacia.

All-in-all, nothing serious, but the ENT wants to see her back in 2-3 months. The treatment (if needed) is a very simple surgical procedure called supraglottoplasty to clip the aryepiglottic folds -- just cut each one a couple millimeters so they can open. With as severe as Annabelle's is, he would have done the procedure if he had seen her as a baby. With babies, it dramatically improves quality of life by helping the baby sleep better and eat better and calming down parents (who are already worried about SIDS). However, Annabelle definitely eats well, and we've made it through the worrisome newborn phase, and she doesn't seem to have any symptoms besides stridor, so he is not recommending the procedure at this point. Good to know!

Gabi: "I'm skating in my shoes!"

We awoke last Tuesday morning to a world of white. School was canceled, so Gabi got to sleep in. (My little alarm clock - Bella - doesn't sleep in.) The girls and I spent some time outside enjoying the winter wonderland in our front yard. Our mailbox was frozen shut, and the grass appeared to hold patches of snow. However, Gabi asked why she couldn't pick up the snow, and we realized it had turned into ice.

Bella spies our neighbor's puppy out for a walk

Bella venturing back from our neighbors'

Gabi skating on the icy snow under the tree

Bella enjoying the snow day

It was very cold, and eventually Bella walked back to our front door, knocked on the door, then turned around and looked at me and pointed inside. I took the girls inside (against Gabi's protestations), and Bella was immediately ready for a nap. That baby girl knows when she's tired and is very easy to put down! Gabi and I then went to check out the snow on the deck.

Gabi making footprints next to some cat pawprints

Gabi loves being outside

I didn't stay outside nearly as long as Gabi would have liked. I sat down inside by the sunroom window to read and watch her play, but Gabi decided it wasn't as fun playing by herself and soon came inside.

Tiny icicles hanging from the deck rail

This past weekend, Lolo and Lola asked to take Gabi to see Despereaux so they could give Gabi some individual attention. We agreed, but we didn't set a time because of a busy weekend. We met up with Lolo & Lola for dinner Saturday evening following Grant's birthday party, and after dinner Lola asked, looking at her watch, "Do you think we can still go to the M-O-V-I-E tonight?" Immediately animated, Gabi started cheering, "Yay! A movie! We're going to see a movie!" We were all shocked to hear how quickly our smart little girl picked up on the meaning of the spelling.

Alex is just a couple weeks younger than Annabelle

We've had a few playdates since we've moved, but I haven't been good about taking pictures. This time I made a point to grab the camera.

Bella still waking up from a long nap

Bella and Alex putting together the puzzle

Feeding the baby dolls

Bella resting on the slide

Annabelle's fourth tooth (the other top front tooth) is poking through the gums. It looks like she'll get her two front teeth for Christmas this year!

Friday, December 12, 2008

Christmas Preparations

Merry Christmas!

Bella signing cat as the girls read The Animals' Christmas Carol

There's not actually a cat in this book. Bella loves the animals, but she gets confused as to what they ought to be called. When she finds one that she knows, she is very excited. She has signs for puppy, fish, cat, bird, rabbit, and baby. She tries to name all creatures using those words, so we're working on expanding her vocabulary.

Gabi pointing out the puppy while Bella signs

Gabi helping Daddy string up the outside lights

For parents, "help" becomes defined as "involved in some way." Earlier this week, the girls were helping me do laundry. Bella's contribution was to move clothes from my sorted piles back into the laundry basket. Gabi's job was to put clothes from one pile into the laundry machine (which she did one piece at a time, so it took almost as long as I needed to scrub the extra-soiled articles). When Gabi finished her light-colored pile, she picked up something from the basket that Bella was filling - namely, her dark purple panties. I told her that we weren't washing that yet because this was a light load, and those panties were dark. Gabi asked which colors were light and which were dark. I explained that white and pink were usually light, while red and purple were usually dark. Gabi immediately tried to help by sorting clothes from the basket, and she found a very dark hot pink shirt and lavender socks, which both, according to my descriptions, went into the wrong piles. What a confusing concept!

Gabi in front of our Christmas tree

I have yet to figure out how to teach Bella not to pull the ornaments off the tree. That little girl does love to be involved in whatever I'm doing. On Wednesday, I was wrapping a few presents to get in the mail before Gabi's dance class. I was diligent in keeping the scissors away from Bella, but she managed to get ahold of some wrapping paper (fortunately that roll was almost gone). Then while I was wrapping the second present, Bella started unwrapping the first present. Trouble! Gabi was also requesting to help, but at least she wasn't climbing on my wrapping surface like her little sister. Eventually, Bella decided she needed to curl up in my lap and snuggle, which was my clue that Annabelle needed a nap even though this meant that I would not be able to go to the post office before dance class. I stopped everything to rock Annabelle and put her down. Once Annabelle was asleep, not only was I able to wrap the presents more efficiently, but I was suddenly able to think clearly. I realized that since dance class is around the corner from the post office, Bella and I could mail the presents during Gabi's dance class (plus, that way I'd only have one kid with me!). That was so obvious, I wonder why I didn't think of it before. Somehow having two young children pulling your brain in every direction makes it impossible to think logically.

My girls in front of our Christmas decorations

Yesterday, I attempted to take some pictures for our Christmas card, but this proved to be a very difficult task. Often Bella won't even stay put long enough for the auto-focus on my camera to find her. Gabi stays in position but rarely smiles and her poses are a bit awkward. Whenever I do manage to capture a good shot of Annabelle, I realize that Gabi wasn't looking. My expectations of my three-year-old are probably unrealistic, and I am a bit harsh in correcting her, which of course means I'm guaranteed NOT to have a smile from Gabi in the next shot. So... I tried again in the evening with Michael's help, but without any improvement in the results. The following pictures illustrate why I dislike trying to stage a good picture of both children.

And yet another photo session in their pajamas after dinner...

At some point before Christmas (now less than two weeks away), I do hope to mail Christmas cards. Maybe we'll take pictures in front of the nativity scene outside the Greek Orthodox Church in our neighborhood.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Baby It's Cold Outside

It is definitely cold outside these days, although Gabi would still love to jump in the leaves in the front yard all afternoon if I'd let her. I just don't want to stay outside.

Today, Gabi came home from school with black grime all over her light pink outfit and needed a bath. I caught her slurping the bathwater and told her not to drink the bathwater because it's yucky. Gabi replied, "I can't see any yuck." I explained that the water has soap in it and all the dirt that we just washed off her body, but she looked at the apparently clear water and disagreed. Thinking back to the last time I cleaned her bathtub (definitely a full month ago, probably a little longer), I was thankful that she obediently stopped drinking the bathwater even though my rule obviously made no sense to her.

Gabi's favorite food: macaroni and cheese

Unfortunately, Gabi has become a fairly picky eater over the past few months. She refuses to try new foods or eat casseroles or other mixed dishes. Most of the time, she doesn't seem to mind going to bed hungry. Although this is frustrating for us parents, we realize it is a normal stage in child development. I have started making sure there is some item served that Gabi will like, even if it is just apple slices.

Bella, aka Mess Bucket

Annabelle will still eat most anything (except bread... where did she get that?) and likes to feed herself. She's a mess.

Bella always wants to eat, and dinner can never come early enough. One evening when I was trying to delay dinner until Michael was home to eat with us, I picked up Annabelle (who was begging to eat) and tried to distract her, but she signed food and said "hung-y." It was so cute that I served dinner right then.

Bella in Daddy's T-shirt

One night at Lolo and Lola's house, we found ourselves in need of a change of clothes for Bella but we didn't have another outfit for her. Annabelle got to wear Daddy's t-shirt that evening. She actually looked very cute. Lola nicknamed her Yoda.

Bella is also starting to do more on her own. She likes to "cook" with the play kitchen dishes, stirring and then spooning imaginary food into my mouth. When I'm dressing her or putting on her coat, she moves her arms to help me get them in the sleeves. Whenever I put her in the car, she lifts the crotch strap of her car seat up so I can buckle her in.

Gabi napping in the playroom

Gabi actually took a nap three times in the past week, which is unusual. (Oh, but that faded mauve and pea green pillow is ugly... I need to get those things recovered. Michael had an idea to put G-A-B-I on each one since there are four. The original idea was to put A-N-N-A on the other side, but then we decided to call Annabelle "Bella" instead.)

A few people have inquired about Annabelle's reflux medicine, since I mentioned difficulties with insurance in the last post. Yesterday the insurance company approved her prescription (with her doctor's justification), and we now have a full month's supply. We also have an ENT appointment scheduled in a few weeks and her ophthalmology follow-up in early January. But, really, Bella is a happy and active kid who is growing well, so I'm not too worried about her. And, surprisingly, I think she likes her eye drops.

Bella with her giant elephant

Gabi dragged this elephant and half a dozen of Bella's favorite books into one corner of the living room and declared that space to be "Bella's room." The adjacent corner of the living room is "Gabi's room" and houses Gabi's pillows -- one for Gabi and one for Bella, because Gabi lets Bella "sleep" in her "room" and Bella thinks it's fun to lie on pillows wherever they are.

Gabi hanging decorations on the tree

We are slowly decorating our house for Christmas. Each night before bed, Gabi adds a few more ornaments to the tree. Our Christmas tree now has plenty of decorations on the lower three feet. In this picture, Daddy picked Gabi up so we could start decorating the higher branches as well.

I hung our stocking on the mantle. Michael and I each have a fantastic personalized stocking that my mom made (on loan from her), but the girls just have those standard fuzzy red-and-white stockings. For years I have intended to make stockings for my family...

Girls "helping" Daddy

Annabelle loves the stepstool and tries to climb up behind whoever is using it, whether Gabi is on it to help me cook or I am trying to change a light bulb. Here, Daddy was adjusting the angel tree-topper. When we first set up the Christmas tree, Gabi immediately started talking about putting a bird on it. We didn't have a tree-topper, so I took the girls to Hobby Lobby to buy one at the 50% off sale. I couldn't find a bird tree-topper, so I let Gabi select between an angel and a star; she chose the angel.

Saturday, November 29, 2008


Tuesday, Bella turned 15 months old! Her third tooth finally broke through the gums, after a week of troubled sleep. Wednesday at her well check-up, Bella weighed exactly 20 pounds (10th percentile, with a diaper), measured 28 ¾ inches (20%), and her head circumference was 19 inches (95%, although her head doesn't appear abnormally large, so they measured it twice). Bella is a tiny baby, but she is growing and healthy. When she entered the room, the doctor heard Annabelle's laryngomalacia (breathing noises from an immature airway) and was concerned that it had not disappeared yet, so she is referring Bella to an ENT. She wants Bella to continue the Prevacid, so I need to call the insurance company because they refused to pay for it last time. (Since we switched insurance companies when we moved and Michael changed jobs, our current health insurance doesn't recognize the fact that we already tried whatever other, cheaper medicine that didn't work.) The doctor also started Bella on allergy eye drops to see if that will clear up the drainage from her left eye.

Thanksgiving Feast at School
The parents were invited for a potluck Thanksgiving feast after school on Tuesday. The kids were all dressed as Native Americans!

Gabi dressed as a Native American

Gabi, Ava, Grant, Nathan, Grey, and Isaac

Ms. Laura's class

Annabelle exploring Gabi's classroom

Reading like a big kid

Grey and Ava on the courtyard playground (left);

Nathan begging to have his picture taken (right)

Grant and his mom

Bella found the marbles in the Proud Jar

Gabi's Indian drum

We checked out two Thanksgiving books from the library to read this holiday weekend.

The Thanksgiving Door by Debby Atwell: An elderly couple who is alone for Thanksgiving is frustrated when their dinner is burnt, so they decide to try out the new restaurant down the street. The door is open, so they enter; however, the immigrant family who is busily preparing their first Thanksgiving celebration did not expect visitors, as the restaurant was not open yet. Grandmother insists that they have plenty of food and should share, so the family welcomes the unexpected guests. This is a wonderful story about the essence of Thanksgiving even in a non-traditional setting.

Thanksgiving is... by Gail Gibbons: Explores various aspects of Thanksgiving with illustrations of historical harvest celebrations in other cultures, the story of the pilgrims and the Native Americans who helped them, modern Thanksgiving traditions, and the thankful spirit of this holiday.

Thanksgiving preparation

Sisters playing in the stuffed animal corner

Gabi mixing sweet potatoes

Crushing corn flakes

Reading Mirror Me
"Look at Frog stick out his long, pink tongue!"

Finding our tongues


Gabi and Mama

Thanksgiving dinner
We went to Ninong Edward, Ninang Sylvia, and Cousin Steven's house for Thanksgiving dinner with many family and friends.

I think this group shot includes everyone except Lolo and Lola,
who had to leave early to go back to work.

Gabi, Bella, and Abby

Bella and Mama

Caitlin and Bella

Gabi playing upstairs

Gabi, Julienne, and Jaymie played together all evening


Bella and Daddy

Bella on the stairs


Reaching the top

I have the most wonderful husband. I haven't been feeling well for a few days, and Thanksgiving night, I was up all night being sick. Yuck! Michael got up with the girls the next morning, got them ready for the day, and played with them for a few hours. Then he took them to Lola's house so she could watch them while he returned home to take care of me. He also washed the laundry and cleaned the house. Thank you, my love!