Wednesday, September 26, 2012

19 months!


Today Tera is 19 months old and so it’s time for me to remember and relate what all her glorious accomplishments have been for this past month.  I’m pretty sure that her biggest achievement this month has been her foray into walking. I won’t say she’s completely mobile on two legs just yet, but she’s going longer and longer distances and she’s realizing she can walk from one place to another as an actual mode of transportation instead of it being just a cool new trick.  She still seems to prefer starting from a sitting position and then pushing herself up and going rather than being able to get herself into standing without assistance, but she'll get there soon enough.  She’s also a little demon on the stairs.  She’s quite adept at getting up them and is getting better and better at going back down them.   In fact the other day I had put her on the floor and after a minute realized I had forgotten to close the gate going downstairs and momentarily panicked and rushed over to close it.  As I did that I realized that she knows when she gets close to the top of the stairs that she has to turn around and flip onto her belly and back herself down and that the possibility of her just accidentally falling down the stairs is quite a bit less than it used to be. 

She seems to be understanding more of what we’re saying to her and we’re currently working on her being able to follow simple directions.  She apparently tends to clean up after herself at school unprompted although there’s been absolutely no evidence of this at home (shocking). 

She’s definitely making more associations with everyday objects and knows that her shoes and socks go on her feet, and her pants get pulled on from her feet, and her shirts go on over her head.  She knows what to do with a comb, and she’s starting to try and use a spoon and fork to feed herself. 

She signs “help” appropriately and we’re pretty sure she now signs water when she wants something to drink during feeding times.  She’s very clear on how to tell us she’s hungry by signing eat and pulling out her high chair (which is usually followed by whining if we don’t get to that fast enough).

She’s eating a wide variety of foods and at least for now, most of our mealtimes go somewhat smoothly.  What’s not going as smoothly is nighttime.  We’ve gone from a baby that started sleeping through the night at seven weeks, to a  toddler who has stopped sleeping through the night at around 15 months.  It’s definitely more frequent that we have nights when she wakes up at least once during the night than nights when she sleeps all the way through.   Most nights she seems to just need her back patted or occasionally picked up and rocked a little, but it can range from once a night to four or five times a night.  We think this is probably related to the fact that she is actually getting teeth now and they seem to come in very, very slowly which I think prolongs the discomfort.  She’s also been sick for the past two weeks so the congestion isn’t helping either. 

Yesterday, after her being congested for almost two weeks, throwing up last week, and a not so pleasant sounding cough in the mornings, we checked with the doctor who told us we should probably bring her in.  So yesterday afternoon we brought her into sick call where the doctor confirmed that she probably has a sinus infection.  So far her lungs and breathing sound good so we’re not worried about pneumonia right now, but we do have to keep her on her nebulizer twice a day and she now has an antibiotic for the infection.  He also sees the beginnings of at least one new tooth we’re giving her ibuprofen to help with that discomfort.  Another really fantastic developmental milestone she’s hit seems to be that she’s realized she doesn’t like taking medicine as well as she used to.  This has become the source of some stress for me (and us as parents in general) because it’s yet another thing we have to do regularly that causes her distress (and us).  Yesterday was a perfect example: we had to take her into the doctor,  keep her entertained while we waited, then hold her down so they could get a temperature, then hold her down so he could check her ears and throat, then after dinner fight to give her the nebulizer treatment, then invent twenty new ways to trick her into taking her new medicine, then another twenty ways to trick her into taking the Motrin, and then in the mornings I get to try and suction and her nose which she hates and Tom has to do her nebulizer treatment again.  Thankfully she’s a pro at taking her thyroid pill.  I just feel like the majority of the time I have with her during the week is spent trying to get her to do something she doesn’t want to do.  And then tonight is bath night which is another disaster typically.  I have to say, for as much as people say newborns are difficult because they’re so dependent and don’t sleep for long periods of time, this particular age is way harder for us.   

But despite the difficulties and the stress and the worry, we have so much love for her.  One scrunched up, silly little smile reminds me that she is more than worth it all.  One messy, sloppy kiss reminds me that I am her mom and I can do this because she deserves nothing but the best and it is my responsibility and my privilege to provide for her.  We muddle through and on some days DS is just another part of our everyday life and on other days I want to scream, "Why her?!!!" I've said before that I don't believe people are only given what they can handle.  I believe you are given what you are given and you either choose to handle it or you don't; it's just that "handling it" is easier on some days than others....

Sunday, September 23, 2012

It's Sunday again (but I am okay)

What an absolutely ideal weekend this was.  We were able to spend time with both my sister and brother-in-law and my sister-in-law and other brother-in-law together Friday night and also discuss the plans for my next permanent marking (I'll leave that to code for now but I don't think it's that terribly cryptic).  Saturday was spent running errands in the morning and working around the house in the afternoon but last night after dinner, we were able to just play with Tera, which doesn't happen as often as I'd like.  It's hard when we have so many things going on during the week and on the weekends to find time when we both can just sit down with her and goof around, but we were able to last night.  We weren't worried about working on a goal or structured play time, we were just silly as a family and I can't remember the last time we were able to do that for any length of time.  After putting Tera to bed we were only up for about another hour and except for one time of waking up last night (which fortunately Tom took care of) she slept well and until almost 7am which is also fairly rare.

This morning we worked around the house some more and then my mom came over and we took Tera to the Pet Expo at the Lake County fairgrounds.  We'd never been to it before and weren't really sure what to expect, but she really enjoyed seeing all the dogs and cats that were there and even got to pet some dogs and got a few doggie kisses.  It was another reminder that we are not a "dog family" anymore and that was kind of difficult.  In fact, it was the second time this weekend that I was reminded about it but fortunately today I was able to handle it without tears.

Then, I had been craving the amazing tomato basil soup from our favorite eatery Caboose so on the way home from the Pet Expo we picked up tomato soup and grilled cheese to fulfill my childhood desire on a cool weather fall day.  Tonight Tom had hockey (and I'm proud to say they won and he only let in one goal) so Tera and I had some Mommy/ Tera time.  It might have been a little more enjoyable had she been slightly less whiny, but I did also get a lot of kisses and some giggles and even whiny time is better than no time with my girl.

There have been so many instances in the past few weeks when I've realized how "grown up" she really looks.  She goes up and down the stairs, she seems to understand what we say to her, she's starting to use a spoon and fork on her own to eat, and she has such an amazing personality.  I miss the days when she was so dependent on me and I could just hold her for hours, but at the same time it is such an incredible joy to see her becoming more independent and develop her personality.  She takes such pride in her accomplishments and the pride that we feel when she walks three or four feet to us is immeasurable.  It's a very delicate balance between not wanting to her to grow up too much too fast and being so anxious to see who she develops into.  I'm anxious to see her on Christmas this year when she's so much more aware of what's going.  I can't wait to see her on her second birthday when she can really dive into her cake and open her own presents.  I'm just so excited to see her in the next year and what she's able to accomplish and overcome.

Next weekend Tom and I are going to a Down Syndrome conference and while I'll miss our time with our reason for going, I'm excited to see what we can learn about trying to help her progress.  I'm hoping that even with less time, we can still find some time to be silly like we did last night.  Since the beginning of school I've realized how much better this school year is going than last year and I've come to the conclusion that this year Sunday's are hard not because I have to go to work the next day, but because I don't get to spend the next day with my family.  I do look forward to next weekend already, but it's not because I'm dreading the days in between, but because I'm excited for the time five days from now and as insignificant as that may sound, it makes a difference to me and it is easier to deal with.  Have a good work week everyone, I'll see you on the other side.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Fall is here!

I have a new obsession and it's called Pinterest.  It took me months to take the time to even figure out what it was, but now that I have I'm a cleaning, baking, holiday decorating monster.  Okay, maybe not a "monster" because I don't have enough time to actually go too crazy, but I LOVE it!

My friends all wonder how I even have time to find stuff, but honestly it's just one of those things I look at if we're in the car for a while or sitting at home watching TV on the weekends or before bed.  I don't really look for stuff online and then pin it myself, I mostly look through what other people have already found and tried and repin it.  So far I've tried a few recipes, cleaned my shower, some towels, and the shower head.  I've used an amazing concoction of fruits and other flavors as a stove top "potpourri" that smells heavenly, and I've come across several ideas for the upcoming holidays.

This weekend marks the beginning of fall which is my absolute favorite season of all.  I love pretty much everything about it (except maybe the raking of leaves) and I spend most of the year either missing it or looking forward to it.  I love the coziness, the scents, the flavors, the coolness, the colors, and the holidays that go along with it.  So how have I tied in my new found love of Pinterest and my love of fall? I stumbled upon what someone posted as a Fall Bucket List.  A compilation of things to experience during this most wonderful of seasons.  So I'm going to share my Fall Bucket List and see how many things I can do from it to really enjoy it this year.  One of my big reasons for doing this is to create some special memories for, but mostly with, Tera and Tom and the rest of our family.   Last year she was still pretty little and wasn't mobile so I'm hoping this year will allow us some more flexibility.

So without further ado, here it is (in no particular order):

1.)  Apple picking and/or a pumpkin patch (since I've been informed that apple picking is sparse this year)
2.) A photo shoot outside.  I'd really like to actually get some pictures of Tom and I together, but of course, they'll mostly be of Tera.
3.)  Make fall cookies
4.) Try other recipes for stove top potpourris
5.)  Try out apple sangria
6.)  Make the other 15 recipes I've found on Pinterest alone that involve pumpkin
7.)  Take a nature walk and take pictures
8.)  Bake a pie (maybe; crust and I can be enemies at times)
9.)  Carve/decorate pumpkins
10.)  At least one or two more bonfires
11.)  Scary movie marathon
12.)  Reintroduce Tera to Nightmare Before Christmas and other favorite Halloween movies

I think that's a pretty solid list for someone who has little free time so I think I'll stop there.  Hopefully at the end of this season I'll be able to recap my list and see what I've been able to do (and of course share pictures).

Happy Fall!!!
All bundled up and ready for an evening stroll...

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Flashbacks

I'm pretty sure I've written this before, but it happened again today.  I've found on the occasions that I've visited my doctor's office I end up leaving in a mess of emotions.  To help explain this, my doctor's office is on the 4th floor of the Women's Building of Lake Forest Hospital which is where I delivered Tera.

When I walk into the building I'm taken back to the night I went into labor and Tom dropped me off at the door and went to park the car while I headed up to the delivery floor.  It was 5:30 in the morning so no one was at the front desk as we were told would be true at that time and I headed toward the elevator in the dimly lit lobby, waited not so patiently for the elevator to arrive, and rode on up.

When I go to his office, I generally take the stairs because the elevator takes forever and it's not that far.  But as I walk up those stairs, the first floor that I come to opens right up into the waiting room of the floor where the NICU is located and where we sat with so many family and friends as Tom delivered our news.  It's also where Tom and I spent hours of that first week of her life after I had been discharged, but she hadn't.  In between feedings and visitations we would camp out in that lobby with our laptop and phones and return calls, pay bills, and catch up on the many, many emails we were receiving following Tera's arrival and subsequent diagnosis.

As I continue up the stairs the next floor I come to is where the lobby for the post partum rooms are.  It was in this lobby that Tom and I visited with people who came while I was still admitted and where they could wait to come in and see me.

Then I finally head up to the last floor where his office is and where there aren't so many dramatic memories.

Every time I go there I have to go through this conflicting trip down memory lane, and then, I go through it all again on the way back down! Now common sense might tell me to just take the damn elevator and avoid all this craziness, but for as much pain, both emotional and physical that I felt in those places, it doesn't compare to the overwhelming excitement and amazement the first time I was finally able to meet my baby girl.

Today this seemed to bring on even more emotions because it made me think of the next time that I might be on those two floors.  The time that Tom and I have been thinking about planning on for "the sequel" is not too terribly far away any more and being in that building brings up so many thoughts and emotions for me.  I look forward to delivering another baby.  I know that sounds crazy and don't get me wrong, it's an incredibly painful and insanely uncomfortable experience, but I liked that part of my pregnancy.  It was one of the reasons I want to do it again; I can't imagine not having that experience a second time.  But it also brings up so many fears and worries.  What kind and how much testing do we do? Will my next labor be as fast as my first? What if it's faster and I can't make it there? What if it's longer and I realize I'm not as strong as I thought I was? What if there are other problems that are even more serious than what we faced with Tera there? How do I handle taking care of her and a new baby? And even the question that has plagued me since the day she was born, what if I don't love the next baby as much as I love Tera? It's an incredibly hard thing for me to even express in writing, but I know other people have felt the same way about children after their first and I think it's a valid feeling.  I feel like I could never love Tera anymore than I do now and it seems almost impossible to love another child that much as well.   Do I think that's actually going to be a problem? Absolutely not, but it's very difficult for me to imagine right now.

Then to top off all these feelings, Tera was sick today and when I came home she definitely was not herself.  I will say I did get some amount of snuggling, though not as much as some other people today.  Apparently I have to keep reminding myself of the words of wisdom from a very good friend of mine.  Once last year when Tera had been sick for a day or two, I noticed that she would snuggle and sleep on Tom when he was home with her, but when I was she was whiny and cranky and inconsolable.  I was the one who was desperately seeking cuddle time and he was the one getting it.  My friend told me that her sitter had told her that kids always feel most comfortable with their moms so that's who they're the most temperamental for.  With other people they feel a need to basically put on a good show, but with mom they don't have to pretend.  True or not, I like to believe it because it's the only thing that makes me feel better when she's screaming for me and sleeping quietly in her father's arms.

Tomorrow she will be home again, though not with me, so I'm sure she'll be her usual sweet self.


Friday, September 14, 2012

Our week at a glance

This has been a rough week.  It started out on such a positive note with Tera's new skills, and I won't say it went down from there because that's a little too dramatic, but it definitely got more hectic.  Tuesday I had a chiropractor appointment, Wednesday Tera had her hearing test (which she did great on), Thursday she had her 18 month checkup following a not-so-great day at school, and today she had her follow up with the ENT to check on her tubes.

Yesterday she woke up congested after a very rough night of waking up more times than I could count and apparently didn't get much better at school.  She wasn't herself all day and at two different times seemed to be running a low grade fever.  Tom got a call the first time so we had to start thinking about who might go get her and what to possibly do for Friday if she couldn't go back.  Fortunately we already her 18 month wellness check to go to so we figured at least we could get a note saying she could go back or maybe figure out what was wrong.  By the time I picked her up from school she seemed much more herself and when we got her home she ate a great dinner and was acting normally.  She ran no fever at the doctor and according to his measurements, she seems to have jumped into the 36th percentile while only gaining a pound.  But her lungs sounded clear so we're just keeping her nebulizer to twice a day until she clears up again.  He also found another tooth coming through! She's finally getting her right front tooth in so she'll have a pair of teeth that actually match up top to bottom.  She did have to get two shots, but as usual, she did great with them.

Today she had a much better day at school and was apparently giving everyone kisses.  She seems to be acting fine but coughing more so we'll see.  The ENT said her tubes looked good but there was a blockage in one so when given the option of having him use the microscope and dig it out for a few minutes of discomfort and crying, or giving her drops twice a day for several days to clear it out, we opted for the scope.  She'll go back in December for another hearing test and follow up with him to make sure everything is functioning the way it should.

Basically we haven't had a night home any night this week, except for maybe Tuesday but I didn't get home until six that night so even that was a bit crazier than usual.  Tonight Tom is playing hockey, and being the coolest person I know, I tried out two new methods for cleaning my shower and grout that I found online.  I know, don't be too envious, not everyone can live this life of luxury that I do, but I don't have many other times to do those types of things.  And in case you're wondering, the grout cleaning didn't go great but the tub cleaning did.  Although I have to admit the grout might have gone better if I'd left it longer, but the smell of the vinegar and dish soap from the tub cleaner and the bleach from the grout cleaner was getting to my brain and eyes so I decided not to push it.  I don't have a lot of brain cells to spare these days and I'd like to keep what little intelligence and sense I have left, in tact.

I'm really hoping I can simultaneously get the majority of things on my to-do list done this weekend AND relax all at the same time.  I have some quality friend time coming tomorrow with both my friends and Tera's and with any luck I'll be nice and cozy in a hoodie by the fire pit tomorrow night enjoying a new recipe for martinis with my drinking partner in crime.

I also have an idea for a post that I'm hoping to get to this weekend, but it's a little more emotional and reflective than I have the energy for tonight so maybe tomorrow, but really more likely, Sunday.  Now, I'm off to bed to watch some Bones and fall asleep...


Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Sniffles

Monday I was just downright giddy about Tera's walking.  I still couldn't believe that she really did it and watching her it's still hard to believe.  It was so hard to go to work Monday morning knowing that she had this great new skill and I missed her so much more than usual that day.  I shared my good news with all my classes (we start each day with good news) and all my coworkers and everyone was so excited for her.  We posted her accomplishment on video on Facebook and the "likes" and comments just kept coming.  I could almost feel everyone just rooting for her.

I was also very excited for her to return to school to show off and she didn't disappoint.  She's still pretty wobbly and only goes about eight to ten steps at a time, but considering it just really clicked with her two days ago, I'm still so incredibly proud of her.  I haven't tired yet of watching her do it and just keep waiting for the moments when she goes just a little farther each time.

Of course our excitement was dampened just a bit today at the discovery of her first real runny, congested nose since she recovered from her last bout of pneumonia.  Tom dropped her off at school where she was apparently very congested all day, had a runny nose all day, had a bad day of pulling hair, and took a slightly shorter nap than usual.  Then we had to take her for her first hearing test following her tubes.  The good news on this front is that she is hearing better than she ever has since being tested.

Then tonight was bath night, only for her it's actually shower night.  A few months back she developed this fear of having her hair washed.  She still loved to play in the water, but when we had to wash her hair, she would literally try and climb the wall on the other side of the tub and cry in panic.  This is not what I would call just being difficult during bath time; it's more than just not wanting to do it, we both genuinely feel like she is terrified.  Now I take her in the shower with me and wash her and then we do her hair.  When I start to get her hair wet she clings to me and cries hysterically.  Usually I can handle it, but tonight her cries just made me cry.  It's heart-breaking to have your child grab on to you in fear and know that even though you're as close as you can get to them, they're still terrified.

She was exhausted after all of that and went to sleep easily only to wake up 20 minutes later crying and congested.  I tried suctioning her nose which just made her more upset and then made her congested all over again.  She didn't want to be held, rocked, or laid down so finally Tom dug out her humidifier and then about five minutes later I figured we would try her nebulizer.  We hadn't done it after dinner this evening because we weren't home so it was the only time she'd had it.  She ended up calming down immediately and fell back asleep while getting her treatment.  As I am I writing this, Tom just had to get up with her again, but she seemed to back down a little easier.  I could say this could be a long night, but every time I think that she sleeps all the way through and on the nights when I don't expect anything, she could be up five times.

I'm not looking forward to the next few days not only because it seems like she could be on the front end of an illness, but also because tomorrow she has her 18 month appointment which involves shots, and then on Friday she has her follow up with the ENT to check on her new tubes.  It's going to another hectic few days and I'm really looking forward to the weekend.  No joke, this kid's schedule is going to kill us.

Hopefully tomorrow I'll still have a chance to post and hopefully it will be good news (or at least no news) from the pediatrician, she'll have slept through the night, and she has a better day at school tomorrow. We'll see...

Sunday, September 9, 2012

This is big!

One of Tom's favorite quotes is from Warren Zevon (you know Werewolves of London) and it is: "Enjoy every sandwich."  Today is a perfect example of this.  Since Tera was born we've come to accept that we take joy in the little things.  Don't get me wrong, this is by no means little to us; it is incredibly big to us.  But in the grand scheme of life it's probably little.  We've had some very exciting moments in our life together.  Getting engaged, getting married, finding out I was pregnant, and Tera's birth being amongst the top of the list.  But when it comes to Tera specifically, today has to be one of the most exciting days we've had.  After seeing her take little stumbling steps here and there and hearing that she's been trying to walk towards her friends at daycare, today Tera sat on the bottom step of the stairs in the downstairs and just got up and walked towards us!
Then proceeded to do it over and over and over again for the next hour.  We've been proud of every single one of her accomplishments, but as far as "typical" childhoods go, walking is always amongst the big ones and we were just completely overcome with joy and pride and amazement and love for her today.  The determination of my daughter is simply amazing.  We know that her muscle tone makes everything more difficult.  We know that her ankles roll in and that her feet already seem flat and that both of those things make it more difficult to walk.  But she did it.  One of my sisters calls Tera her Wonder Woman and you know what? She is a super hero. Maybe not to everyone, but to me she defies the odds (in so many ways) and she is my hero.  She works so hard to do what so many other kids do easily and she takes so much joy in every task.  She loves to clap for her accomplishments and we love to support that.

Ok, this is already more than I anticipated writing because I thought I was too excited to get any coherent thoughts out.  So here is the best part of our weekend.  It will be difficult to go back to work tomorrow knowing what she can do now, but such is life and I have every day for the rest of our lives to watch her progress.
Here she is...
video

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Teacher vs Parent

I've had a pretty good start to the year so far.  I'm tired, but I'm not frustrated and I feel like I have a pretty good group of students.  That being said, I'm definitely looking forward to the weekend.  One of the things that occurred to me to today though, made me sad.

As a teacher, I regularly have students in my classes that have IEP's (individualized education plans for students that have a particular special need).  I always do my best to make sure I'm following those plans which can and do typically contain provisions like extended test time, preferential seating placement, etc.  When they include taking tests with assistance, I typically check with the student at the beginning of the year and see what their preference is and oftentimes in the past few years my students have opted to remain in the classroom and take their tests with the rest of the class.  I do try and check the suggestions a couple times throughout the year to make sure I'm doing what I should, but I don't always feel like I'm doing my best when it comes to those students because my attention is divided amongst so many other things during those 47 minutes.

Today, one of my students that has an IEP asked me something and I realized afterwards that while I gave her the same response I might have given any other student, I perhaps didn't give her the response that she needed.  Since being back at work post-Tera, I have to admit I've paid more attention to the accommodations of my special needs students and while I'm glad that I do, I'm also upset with myself for not feeling like I did enough before I had a personal connection to them.  Following the interaction with my student today I was left with a feeling of sadness.  Sadness that Tera could be a student in a regular classroom and that someone might not be able to provide her with the attention she needs because she doesn't learn the same as everyone else.

I have conflicting feelings at times when I hear parents say they want their child mainstreamed instead of in a special education class.  I obviously completely understand the benefits of mainstreaming special education students because it's the same type of reason we wanted Tera moved up to the next classroom from the infant room; so that she could be challenged and encouraged by her classmates to perform at the same level as them.  But I also know the realities of being a classroom teacher.  I have 47 minutes to take attendance, go over homework problems, encourage my students, teach them, give students who were absent their work, answer individual questions, and develop relationships with them.  We try and do good news each day to start class on a positive note and I try to end each class with something meaningful to help them retain what they just learned.  Those of course are things I plan with the best of intentions and sometimes I'm actually able to complete.  I feel like it's so easy for a student to fall through the cracks from day to day.  I do my best to make sure that doesn't happen regularly, but I'm aware that I don't know what's going on with each one of my 180 students each day and that's disconcerting when I think about what some of my students go through.  And it's disconcerting to know that someday Tera will be one in a class of maybe 20 or 30, instead of just ten; and that I'll have to wait for her to relate her day to me instead of getting a daily sheet recounting what she had for breakfast, lunch, snack, how long she napped, and what the highlights of her day were.

I'm not sure how I feel about balancing my teacher brain with my mom brain, but I don't see either of those things giving way anytime soon so I suppose I'll have to manage somehow.  I want to be a good teacher to my students and a good mom to Tera, but it seems like sometimes those two things cannot peacefully coexist on a daily basis. I suppose I'll just hope I have good days in both roles, accept the bad days, and hope that I survive the whole thing (okay, perhaps a tad over dramatic, but not entirely untrue...)

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Tera's mad skills

I have been wanting to post several things in the past few days, but as I've discovered, adjusting to life with both of us working has taken a toll on my blogging time.  

Of course now that I sit down to actually do what I want, I can't remember most of the things I wanted to say. With October coming up soon, I'm planning to sit down and do some research and take some time on how I want to tackle this year's "31 for 21" challenge.  This will also mark the one year anniversary of me really making my blog public and I'm just so incredibly thankful to every person that has taken the time to tell me that they have read it and enjoy it and for the incredible amount of support I've received.  When I started it, I mostly did it as a way to publicly journal, but I've really come to enjoy it so much and I miss it when I go too many days without being able to write something.  

So Tera currently receives four therapies: speech, physical, developmental, and occupational.  Of the four, she seems to be closest to typical in her gross motor skills (PT) and the most delayed in speech.  The other two fall somewhere in between.  Her development is progressing at a decent pace, but there are definitely some skills and/or milestones she hasn't quite mastered that other kids her age have and we don't have as much experience with fine motor skills (OT) so it's harder for me to judge that one.  As I've written many, many times speech is her most challenging area, but we are so happy for what she's been able to do in signing.  The whole purpose of language is to be able to communicate and if she happens to be able to do that better with her hands than her voice right now, so be it.  She's been doing a lot better with "puppy" these past few days which we find almost odd because it's not one that we've stressed much and for sure not as much since we lost Jaina, but she does it consistently and without prompting.  One of the funnier things she signs right now is "kitty" whens she sees pictures of Chewbacca.  Tom has decided the sign for "Chewbacca"  and "wookie" is the same as kitty, but with a mean face so we'll see how that one goes.  One of the signs I'm most impressed by is "eat" when she's hungry.  It's probably the most useful sign for her right now because she can initiate communicating a need on her part.  We're currently focusing on "help" which is a difficult one because it requires both hands and movement, but she knows that "please" will pretty much get her what she needs and so that's working for her for now (and it's super cute).  

One of the skills that just kind of clicked for her over the weekend was backward movement down the stairs and off of furniture.  She started going up the stairs over a month ago and while we still aren't comfortable with her doing it without supervision and close support, she's getting pretty good at up and so we started trying to introduce down.  At first she was very reluctant to go backwards.  She would fight it and then just want to go back up.  Last week I posted a video of her climbing into her rocking chair and then figuring out how to flip onto her stomach and climb down.  That must of translated fairly quickly into being able to use the same concept on the stairs.  She will flip onto her tummy at the top of the stairs and then kind of inch her way to the edge and then very cautiously feel around with her foot until she finds the next step and then she'll move down.  When she gets all the way down, we all clap and get excited.  It was very exciting for us to know that she figured it out and it will make practicing that skill so much easier  

Now that I'm literally dozing off while typing, I'm thinking I should call it a night.  Hopefully it's not another week before I get to post again.  

Just to be clear, she did this all on her own.  She climbed up with her book and sat back for a whole 20 seconds before climbing out again...