Monday, June 25, 2012

state street, gelato and an ocean

We had a great day in Santa Barbara today.  We passed my hometown of Oxnard on the way there and it always makes me nostalgic.  Even SB makes me a little nostalgic.  We went to East Beach Park near the Santa Barbara Zoo and just driving by there, it reminded me that when I was 14 years old, my plan was to go to UCSB on a volleyball scholarship and basically just live at the beach.  Never you mind that I wasn't all that good at volleyball.  That was the plan.

Today, a much different (and much better) life than I imagined, I sat on the beach with my husband and we helped Stevie practice standing up.  He can actually stand for about 5 seconds now, which is an improvement from a month ago.  Go Stevie!  Keep practicing, love.

We enjoyed State Street and ate at Mac's Fish & Chips Shop.  We have been trying some of the local places we see on Diners, Drive-ins & Dives and that was one of them.  We got gelato.  I peaked into Forever 21 looking for a skirt.  No luck.  We laughed.  We admired the architecture.  SB seriously has the coolest theaters and buildings.  We walked and walked.  We talked in weird voices.  We stopped in Starbucks.  I put LOTS of Splenda in my skinny iced latte.  It still wasn't very good.  We argued about whether a cyclist or a car has the right of way. We people watched.  We decided if we were homeless, we'd definitely pick a place like Santa Barbara to live.  Those bums (and there are lots of them) have the right idea.  Sorry, I don't think you're supposed to call them bums though.  Hobos?  No, that's not right either.

When we have days like this, I want to have them all. the. time.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

18 Months Old

Baby: He is getting BIG.  Like difficult-to-carry-around-BIG.  He always wants to be near me, especially if he can cling to my legs.  When he wants Daddy, no other person will do.  He shouts "Hey!" about 100x's a day to me and to everyone he meets.  He can show you his ears, mouth, belly, arms, and feet.  His horrible habits include spitting, screaming, & hitting.  He spends a good chunk of the day being mean, and that's something we are definitely hoping to address in his upcoming therapy sessions.  He sleeps through the night occasionally, but most nights, we still have to get up with him.  God, I'd do almost anything at this point to get a good night's sleep.  His favorite foods change all the time.  The last couple days he loves blueberries.  Can't get enough of them.  He also enjoys cheese, bread, and almost anything sweet.  He can finally hold his own bottle/sippy cup!!  I think his favorite activity is riding bikes.  But he digs cruising in his buggy around town, going on the swings at the park, watching me blow bubbles, and just going for rides in the car.  His hair is out of control and I love it a little too much.  When he has those moments of being smiley and giggly - oh Lord almighty.  I turn into a big pile of goo and it cures any frustrations. He has about a million teeth and his smile is the best.  OK, he actually has 16 teeth.  And his smile actually is the best.

*I tried getting him dressed and taking him out to a nice park for a real photo session, but I'm sure you can all guess how that went.  This is the real Stevie anyway. Always a bit of a mess.
Head - Darn, I forgot to write it down, I'll have to update when I check with the doctor.
Weight - 27 lbs 9 oz (75th %)
Height - 32" (50th %)

Parents:  Sometimes we crack, and we make mistakes, and we get annoyed. But as a team, we're in a pretty good place.  We have our little schedule for the most part, and boy, do we cherish any quiet moments we can steal away!  Hubs makes it easier and is such a great dad.  He makes an effort to spend time with Stevie, getting up with him in the morning and feeding him breakfast and hanging out with him.  Then when he gets home from work, he gives him a bottle and rocks him to sleep.  He will even help in the middle of the night!  There is nothing that I appreciate more.  I think any mother would be thrilled to start and end her day the way I get to.  

Mommy's Thoughts:  I can't believe he's been around for a year and 1/2.  So much has happened in such a short time.  When I think about the future, I'm... optimistic.  I get scared sometimes for challenges he (and we) will have to face, but I do look forward to a lot of things.  I might be putting too much hope in how much I think the therapy will change our lives, but that's what I'm clinging to right now.  There just have to be better days ahead.  Days where Stevie can just be a happy boy.  Days where he will run around the park, instead of just wanting to hold onto my legs.  I want to chase him!  Days where he can tell me or show me what he wants instead of screaming or hitting.  Days when he will be able to entertain himself for more than 2 minutes.  Where he will play with toys.  Or explore new areas.  Or just get into trouble.  Oh boy, do I look forward to those days.  I want him to get dirty and play.  And destroy the house and keep me on my toes.  That's a ridiculous thing to wish for, but my vision of little boys includes that.  I'm interested to see how I will handle things and how I will discipline and what he will get away with.  Because no matter how much you think you know yourself, kids change everything!

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Oh, Date Night

The husband and I were the type of couple who went to the movies 2-3 times a month.  Sometimes more.  And there was always food involved.
Dates were all the time!  It's so easy when there are no kids.

But everyone knows too well that as soon as the chitlins arrive, date nights are a coveted and prized evening out.  

As soon as I was old enough to baby-sit, I remember my parents having date night once a week.  Sometimes all they did was go grocery shopping.  But hey, they did it together. And that was important to them.  Granted, it didn't save their marriage, but I will never forget seeing them make that effort.  I have always planned on making date nights a priority in my marriage.

So far, we only have date night once every couple months, since there's only so much free baby-sitting time we can take advantage of from the in-laws.  Plus with Paul's work schedule, he doesn't get a lot of family time.  So on weekends, we like to all be together.  And we're ok with that right now.  More date nights will come as the kid(s) get older.

Date Night circa 2008
Blah blah blah, onto my story.

We had a date on Tuesday night!  Paul is off work for the next couple weeks and so we were excited to go to dinner and a movie.  Ah, just like the good ol' days.  Except we are old now and wanted to be home at a reasonable hour.  Tati arrived for duty at 7:30 and we headed over to Universal CityWalk to catch the 8:30 showing of The Avengers.  Yay, so excited!  

Of course we wanted to eat, (duh!) but with so little time we ended up grabbing Taco Bell & Flame Broiler at the food court.  Yeah, we're fancy like that.  We scarfed it down like a last meal and that gave us just enough time to stock up on Popcornopolis, which we basically HAD to buy to get our parking validated.  It saved $3 off the $15 price tag that is CityWalk parking.  Although with the popcorn being a Buy 3, Get 1 Free deal, we also HAD to get 4 bags.  So I think we ended up spending $25 there.  

Nicely played, CityWalk.

The new date night
We arrived at the theater right as the previews started and they stopped us at the door saying there was no outside food or drink allowed in the theater.  

What food?  Oh, the popcorn?  But that's from a retail store!  We're not going to eat it!  They are gifts.  We will buy popcorn and soda from you guys.  Or maybe I can leave it at the front?

Sorry, no exceptions.  It needs to be taken back to your car.

But the car is so far away!  We will miss the movie.

Actually you will only miss the previews.

But I like the previews!

Sorry, then all I can do is refund your tickets.

Are you going to refund our parking too, because that was expensive and we only paid for parking to come watch this movie?!

No, sorry.  We do not validate parking.


I didn't say that.  But we got our money back and were annoyed by the whole thing.  We decided to boycott AMC Theaters.  Then we realized that's all we have in Burbank.  So we went to another AMC to watch Moonrise Kingdom.  And bought $10 popcorn and soda and a $5 bottled water.  But free parking!

Who's the sucker now?

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Eye Surgery Update

Stevie survived yet another surgery! This one was "easy"... Or as easy as they come, I suppose. A short, outpatient procedure. We were in the hospital at 5:30am and back home by 11:30am.  It still felt like the longest day in history though.

They corrected his Esotropia, although I don't know how they did it, besides what the doc told me.  He "loosened the muscles on the inner corner of the eyes". At first it was really hard to see any difference, especially because his eyelids are still droopy.  But today I am noticing more and more that those little eyballs are straighter.  Especially with his glasses on.  And he's leaving his glasses on so much longer too.  He must be noticing some difference.

This guy was NOT a happy camper coming out of the anesthesia. The only thing that would comfort him was being held by his papa. The nurses had to give him morphine to calm him down because he kept holding his breath and trying to get out of all the wires and monitors he was attached to. We know his style so we weren't worried and knew he'd be fine once we got out of the hospital.

Once they let us go home, he slept off the medications and woke up feeling like his old self.

We have to put an ointment in his eyes 3 times a day and he's not having that!  So we are just trying our best. I don't think it ever ends up where it's supposed to. We just kind of smear it all over and hope something gets in there!

This should be his last surgery for awhile. We will eventually have to do his eyelids and another heart procedure down the road. But its safe to say we all could use a break from hospitals for a couple years!

Right before they take him from us, every time, they give him a cocktail of meds to relax him. The nurses call it "happy juice". Hubby and I always joke that they should be giving happy juice to the parents too!  It's always so hard to watch them wheel him away into the operating room. In some senses it does get easier, but mostly I don't think it ever will.

I am so proud of Stevie and how tough he is. He's a feisty guy and has never been an easy baby, but he does keep smiling through it all.  We have more challenges ahead, and I know he will handle them like the little champion that he is.

I also know this.  That I will never tolerate hearing Stephen say "I can't".  Because he can. I truly believe with his willpower, grit, and bravery that he CAN do anything. Moms always say this sort of thing, but I'm seriously not gonna take any excuses from this kid.  It might not always be easy, but it can be done.  And that can be a lesson for us all - me included!

God, I love this kid.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Busy Busy Bees!

We are in the middle of a crazy week.

I think it feels extra crazy because Paul has been working 10 days in row (just 2 more to go and then some time off!!!)  But he's tired.  I'm tired.
Stevie is sick of me.

Every day this week, I've been running the tyke around to doctor's appointments.  And we're not done yet.  It's pre-op time again.  We've been through this twice before and surgery ended up being canceled.  (Take One & Take Two) We keep saying third time's the charm!  And it better be.  If I have to fill out the same paperwork again and do all these pre-op visits one more time, I might just accept his crossed eyes as something that adds character.

We're scheduled for Monday morning though.  And so far, so good.  We are all checked in to Children's Hospital so we can go straight to surgical waiting.  No check-in required.  The ophthalmologist did a quick exam and confirmed what procedure we'll be doing (esotropia correction).  The cardiologist gave the all clear.  His heart function and oxygen levels are spectacular.  Even the small leak he still had after OHS #2 corrected itself. Yay!

Now, if he can get through the germ-fest that is his pediatrician's office without catching a cold, we will be golden.

Waiting patiently (?) to see the nurse practitioner at CHLA

Wish us luck!

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Let's Do This

I met with Stevie's case worker from the Regional Center for the first time.  She was nice.  We went over a lot of information.  Too much for my brain to remember it all.  The things that stood out were Stevie's scores on his evaluations.

He will be turning 18 months in just a couple weeks but he is only performing at a 10-month old level overall.

There was a range between all his scores that brought them to that conclusion.  For instance, with his Communication Development (words/gestures/understanding), he is only performing at an 8-month old level.  His Gross Motor Skills, he's at an 11-month old level, but his Fine Motor Skills, he is only at the level of a 7-month old!!  Quite a shock to me, but it does make sense.  Especially with his vision limitations.  (I'm not going to lie, when they told me that, I felt defensive and guilty.  But that's for another blog post.)  They also tested his Cognitive Skills, Social Development and Adaptive Development, etc.

So the big question is what's next?

By the end of the month, we should be starting 3 different therapies.  Infant Stimulation therapy will be once a week.  Vision Therapy will be once a week.  And Physical Therapy will be once a month.  The therapists will come to our house and work with Stevie for about an hour.  The case worker told me that she is finding people who will be a little aggressive without making the kid hate them.  I like that.  I don't mind working him hard.

We'll be on this track for about 3 months and then evaluate his progress.  If he is making good progress we'll keep to this schedule.  If he is not where we want him to be, we will increase each therapy session to 2x's a week.  Which would mean he'd have therapy almost every single day.
So I'm hoping we will see a lot of improvement quickly!

We also set some goals for Stevie.  So over the next 6 months, he should be able to:

Say single words
Sit through a meal without spitting
Understand no-no
Play independently
Feed himself
Explore his environment
Stand independently

If he has reached these goals in 6 months, we will set new goals.  If not, we will talk about where he's at and refine these goals.

Yay for me!
So there you have it.  A lot of new things in the works.  I am really looking forward to seeing how they work with him.  And what new things he will learn.

Most people wish their kids were babies longer.  And I know in the future, looking back, I will wish the same.  But babies are a lot of work.  Especially when they are 28 pounds.  I think its safe to say, at this point in time, we are ready to move on to the toddler stage.  A whole new set of adventures.  But it will be a good thing in so many ways.