Sunday, June 28, 2009

Gabi's Artwork

Gabi loves to write and draw. Recently, she received a nice set of colored pencils and a sketchpad full of blank paper - perfect for hours upon hours of artwork! Her drawings need no further explanation:


pencil or house?, free-hand

house, traced

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Funny Quotes

The girls just after watching the Irish dancers at the Greek Food Fest

Gabi's crown of flowers from the Greek Food Fest

Gabi told me this story while we were riding in the car: "Before Bella was here, God had her. When I was little, we didn't have a baby sister, so God gave us Bella because we needed her." So sweet!

Crossing the bridge at Cock of the Walk

Bella with Lola and Lolo

Lola preventing Bella from diving

One day, Bella was telling me to do something that I was not going to do. She adopted a stern voice, pointed her finger at me, and said, "Un. Do. Do." She was trying to count to three like I do. It was adorable and hilarious!

Bella enjoying a drink during the Trout Fishing concert at Riverfest

Bella carrying her water bottle
(day 2 at Riverfest)

Gabi's Riverfest art
(She painted a windmill on her fan.)

Exploring downtown during Riverfest

Still happy and still at Riverfest after dark

Our family took a wonderful weekend vacation to Big Cedar Lodge. While we were there, Annabelle cut her fourth molar overnight, keeping us all up and ensuring that we returned home sleep deprived. Poor baby; I didn't even have any Tylenol for her.

Gabi riding the carousel at the zoo

On the way home from vacation, the girls had Teddy Grahams after lunch. Bella called them "cracker bears," which prompted Gabi to make a comment about Cracker Barrel (she's into intentional puns these days). Bella eats quickly and finished hers before Gabi. She then requested to have more, and Gabi kindly shared a few. Bella continued to ask for more, so I told her that Bella's crackers were all gone, and those were Gabi's crackers. Bella nodded and said, "Gabi cracker. Bella mouth" (pointing to the crackers and then to her mouth).

Gabi, Kathryn, and Anna Grace in the dressing room before their dance recital

Flowers from Lolo after Gabi's recital

Ninang, Cousin Steven, and Ninong came to watch Gabi dance on the big stage

Lolo took our family portrait outside the Robinson

Several times a day, Bella will say, "Shoes on. Open door. Go ride in the car!" She'll even bring each of us a pair of shoes when she tells us to put our shoes on. When we drive over a bump in the road or down a big hill, she exclaims, "Boom!" or "Whee!" This is much more pleasant than her infant days when she hated the car and screamed whenever I strapped her in the carseat.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Home from the Hospital

We are home from the hospital and Annabelle is doing well. Michael continually updated a post about Bella's surgery while we were at the hospital, but I will share more details now.

We arrived at the hospital at 5:30 AM much happier than expected, given the early hour and lack of breakfast. The air feels wonderful and cool that early in the morning, which made the walk from the parking lot to the hospital very pleasant. Bella was supposed to go into the OR at 7:30, but due to an emergency at a different hospital, her doctor didn't arrive until 9:15. She was starting to ask to eat, but we were able to distract her. Bella got her Versed and Tylenol at 9:20, and she rolled back to the OR at 9:45 or so. The anesthesiologist inserted an LMA (laryngeal mask airway), which is less invasive than standard (endotracheal) intubation but provides better airway control than just a mask.

Dr. Richter did a scope of her airway to get a better look and take pictures. The picture below is abnormal, but her airway is normal further down. The curved piece in the picture is her epiglottis, which ought to be much more straight. The arytenoid cartilage below the epiglottis is too short and too tight, tying down the epiglottis and pulling it into the curved position. During the scope, he was able to watch that curved tissue close up, further obstructing her airway. Also, there is too much tissue in the arytenoid cartilage, and that extra tissue flops into her airway and blocks airflow into her trachea.

Annabelle's airway

For reference, here is a slide showing what the airway ought to look like in that same view:

The surgical procedures to fix both of those things are very simple and have no expected complications, although it does require an overnight stay in the hospital. At this point, because she has no symptoms other than stridor (noisy breathing), he did not do anything besides take these pictures. Her anatomy is such that she might require the procedure down the line, as her case is the type that will show up between ages 4 and 7 with asthmatic-type problems during athletics due to unresolved laryngomalacia. However, she is definitely not having any problem with her activity level, so we will just wait and see if hers resolves.

Dr. Westfall put a stent into the tear duct in her left eye. The stent is a small rubber tube resembling a rubber band (but not a full circle). There are two tear drainage ducts on the inside of the eye next to the nose; one below the eye and one above. He inserted the ends of the stent into each of those ducts, making a small loop in the corner of her eye next to her nose. The ends of the stent were tied down inside her nose. Hopefully she won't pull it out before it is time for her doctor to remove it! I haven't seen the stent yet, but he said that if I look closely I should be able to, although Bella probably cannot feel it at all. The first stent he tried to use (a Crawford tube) did not fit in her tear duct because she has a tight curve in the drainage system that probably further prevents tear drainage. He had a different type of stent which did work, though. He expects her eyes to drain well now that he opened them up again, and once he removes the stent, it should be normal. Her right eye had cleared up on it's own, so he didn't do anything to that eye.

(Image credit, although the text
on that site is unrelated to Annabelle's condition.)

The procedure was finished at 10:50, and we were able to see her shortly thereafter. They gave her some morphine before she left the OR, but when I walked into the recovery room, she was still very upset. She was extremely floppy because the anesthesia hadn't completely worn off, but she was crying and flailing and fighting everything. She had a bloody nose and bloody eye from the stents, so her nurse and Michael kept trying to protect my clothes from the blood. I didn't mind the blood, though; I just wanted my baby to be happy. Bella was so wiggly she actually squirmed completely out of her own hospital gown. She kept hitting anyone who got close to her, so I received many slaps in the face. Her major concern seemed to be the board strapped to her arm to keep it straight so it wouldn't bother the IV in her hand. A lullaby calmed her down briefly, but it didn't last long. Eventually she took a sip of juice, which meant that the nurse could take the IV out. After that, she was able to drift off to sleep in my arms.

Annabelle was discharged from the hospital at 12:30, and she slept most of the car ride home. She was hungry for lunch, but after getting some food in her tummy, she was clearly tired, so I put her down for a nap.

Bella slept for 5 hours this afternoon before I went in to check on her, which woke her up. She specifically requested ice cream for dinner, so she had some sherbet and then some pizza. After that, she just wanted to snuggle and read books until I put her to bed. She seems to be doing fine. The only meds she needs are Tylenol and some eye drops (and of course her usual Prevacid). I hope tomorrow is more back to normal. Gabi deserves to have something fun to do. She is a wonderful big sister and was very understanding of Bella not feeling well, but today was still boring for her. She loved any occasion I gave her to help care for Bella, such as bringing her Lily bunny or giving her a kiss.

Bella's Surgery

(This post was updated periodically at the hospital, as we were given more information.)

As you probably already know, Annabelle is having her surgery today. We are currently waiting for the ophthalmologist to be ready for her. He is apparently at the other hospital in a trauma case, so we have been delayed for a little while. Mommy took some cell phone pictures of our little patient looking super cute in her hospital gown:

UPDATE #1: Ophthalmology made it over and talked to us. Since Bella's right eye has been clear for the past 2 months, they won't operate on it, and will just place a stent in her left nasolacrimal duct. They gave Bella some Versed, which made her extra giggly, but didn't put her to sleep just yet. She just rolled back to the OR and we expect her to be there for the next hour or so.

UPDATE #2: ENT is done looking at Bella's airway. He gave us pictures (now scanned and posted below). As for right now, the airway looks not normal, but is open. Since she's not really having any symptoms aside from noisy breathing, they elected not to perform the supraglottoplasty today, which is good news. There is a chance she may need it later on if she starts having shortness of breath or difficulty with activity, but I can't really argue that anything is slowing our little Energizer baby down right now.

Abnormal epiglottis

Normal vocal chords

Normal trachea

UPDATE #3: All done! Ophthalmology came out and told us everything went fine. Bella has a stent in her left nasolacrimal duct now. Hopefully, she will let us keep it there for the next six months as planned. We're back in our room waiting for all the sedation to wear off. She is really disoriented right now and fighting us pretty hard... so she's back to normal wiggliness, but not quite back to being her usual sweet self. I think she just needs to sleep all this off. Poor baby. Post-op picture being snuggled by Mommy:

UPDATE #4: Going home now. Bella had something to drink and is more agreeable, mostly because we got the IV out of her arm. That, apparently, was the worst thing that happened to her today.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Little Vampires

No, I haven't read the Twilight book series or even seen the movie. But the vampire topic seemed appropriate for this post given some stories I have for you about blood and teeth.

Memorial Day brought Annabelle a present: her 10th tooth (a lower molar). The fourth molar and her final lateral incisor are trying to break through the gums next. Needless to say, Bella has been fussy recently.

Aunt Lisa with the girls
(I love Gabi's smile in this picture!)

The girls showing Aunt Lisa their dollhouse

Aunt Lisa and Annabelle

One day when it was chilly, Gabi told me that we needed some blood to keep us warm. That caught my off-guard, but, yes, blood does help keep us warm... I wonder if she learned that at school.

Another night, Gabi told Michael she was going to draw some blood for him. She then proceeded to use a red crayon to draw blood on paper for her Daddy. Not the typical meaning of "draw blood," but definitely very literal.

Gabi watering an Olivia-flower and watching it grow

Gabi and Olivia dancing at Olivia's birthday party

Bella loves pointing out all sorts of vehicles; she knows about trucks, tractors, trolleys, trains, cars, buses, boats, and airplanes. Then she will say "vroom-vroom" or "choo-choo" (or "zoom") as appropriate. Today at Home Depot, she was pretending to be a train and calling out "chug-a-chug-a choo choo!" as we walked through the store. Gabi joined in the fun, too, of course.

Bella driving a toy car at Playtime Pizza

It's the end of the school year, which means we've been busy with recitals and goodbyes. Gabi's PreK3 class had an adorable Spring Program on May 5th. I will have to post the video soon!

Back in February, Gabi had told me that after Z week, they would have to start over because she would still have more school. That was clever of her to figure out, although what they really did was move on to numbers. Last week, I heard Gabi singing a song about addition. She would sing "2 plus 2 is four. Five plus five is [pause to count on her fingers] 10, five plus five is ten." etc. It was very cute, and I was even more impressed that she would use her fingers to illustrate her additions and count to determine the answers. That means she wasn't just memorizing the facts/sentences, but rather she understood the concept of addition. Of course, for the past month or two, she's been adding (and sometimes subtracting) with objects in word-problem-type format, so addition isn't a new concept for her. She's also figured out that two numbers together (e.g. 11 or 28) represent a larger (two-digit) number as opposed to just two individual numbers.

Ms. Maureen putting on Gabi's makeup for the Spring Program

Three little piglets in the PreK3 Spring Program
Samantha, Kate, and Gabi

Gabi and her PreK3 teacher, Ms. Laura

After the last day of school, we had a parent-teacher conference with Gabi's teacher. I love that the Anthony School has mid-term and end-of-year conferences for all students so that you don't only hear from the teachers if your child is having a problem. Gabi easily mastered the entire three-year-old curriculum in both English and Spanish, and she has really come out of her shell and matured socially and emotionally. (The first semester she had trouble "participating in class activities with a positive attitude.")

The Anthony School has a regular PreK4 curriculum plus a PreK Transitions class with an advanced curriculum for the students who have completed PreK4 but who are yet not ready for Kindergarten. Currently, there are a couple spots in the Transitions class that were not filled with older children, and Gabi has been recommended for that class! The Transitions class still has recess and PE with the other four-year-olds, and one or two other students from PreK3 will likely also join her in Transitions, so she'll still see all her friends from this year.

The PreK4 class has a letter of the week just like in PreK3, but the Transitions class does a letter a day and then moves on to more advanced material. Students in the regular PreK4 class are usually reading by the end of the year, whereas most of the Transitions kids can read some at the beginning of the year. The Transitions class is more writing-intensive; they keep a daily journal and write stories. It also requires more independence, as students are assigned tasks for the week and given time to work each day, and they must manage their own time and be aware of which tasks they still need to do. I think it will be a perfect fit for our Gabi girl! I'm very proud of her.

Gabi's dance recital costume

Last night, Lola called to ask if I could pick her up at the airport when she returns to town, and then she talked to Gabi. When the conversation was over, Michael asked for the phone so he could hang it up. Gabi insisted that she could do it, and she pressed the button to turn off the phone. After she handed the phone back to Michael, she explained, "You press the off button, the one that says O-F-F," spelling the word off from memory, which she had read herself on the phone. She also reads signs to me when we are out and about.

Climbing on the paddle wheel of the ACH boat

Captain Bella steering the ACH boat

In the last post, did I say that Annabelle was using two-word sentences? What I meant to say is that she is using full sentences! That girl can talk. We went out to eat with Lolo this weekend, and Bella handed me her empty cup and said, "I want more Sprite." (Yes, I gave her Sprite... Big sister introduced it to her.) As we were driving through downtown Little Rock, Bella very excitedly pointed out the trolley (which she can pronounce perfectly, by the way) and then said, "Mommy, trolley go bye-bye" to tell me that it was out of view.

At Riverfest over Memorial Day weekend, we went to the Trout Fishing in America concert and heard some new songs that we didn't know before, one of which was called "I've Got A Friend (and He Won't Be Quiet)." Ever since, Michael and I have been singing "I've Got a Baby and She Won't Be Quiet." After each refrain, Bella adds "E-I-E-I-O" (just because she knows that's a song, and she likes Old MacDonald). She has such a cute voice; I need to post a video of her talking so you can hear her.

Enjoying the Kris Allen concert in Little Rock
(Final 3 week of American Idol)

Walking back to the car after the Kris Allen concert

Preston and Gabi checking out an historical fence

Well, now that is is June, I have finally posted pictures from the first half of May... and I have yet to copy all the videos from the camcorder to the computer.