Dirty Soles and Knee Holes

I think we have official hit toddler-hood around here. We have had hints of it here and there, but I can officially say we are there. Abigail will be three in about two weeks, and she is going to be a full-fledged toddler. Usually toddler refers to babies who are toddling around and learning to walk. Toddler hood can mean some fun adventures as children get more and more curious. It can come with some defiance as the child is learning independence. It can be a hard time for the parent as they enter into a new, challenging time. But it is also so fun to see your child learning and growing into a little person with their own likes and dislikes and attitudes and personalities.

Well we have hit toddler hood head on! We have a little girl (my baby girl) who is taking steps and trying to be Miss Independent. She is learning to say ‘no’ and is pushing our buttons. She gets into things she shouldn’t and squeals at us if we aren’t doing things her way. She loves trying new things and being asked questions. She is learning she cannot do everything she wants. She can’t pull our hair or rip our glasses off our face – two things we are trying to get her to stop!

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She loves to push this bus around the house – this is her helping me “cook” in the kitchen…really just getting under my feet so I sent her under the table to play

It’s such a fun stage, but it is all new for us. We have to actually parent. I know that sounds awful, but Abigail has always been so easy and has never gotten into anything so we had an easy job of just taking care of her. Now we have to step up our parenting game and teach her right and wrong. She hates being told ‘no’, so we are working on finding ways to redirect her. We are working on how to discipline. But I don’t want to make it sound like she is awful. She really is as sweet and joyful as ever! She is just a toddler – into everything and learning her boundaries.

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That precious smile and dirty pink shoes!

But what I am most excited about in this stage is dirty soles and knee holes. Abigail’s shoes are dirty! Her pants have wear and tear on them!! We don’t wear shoes a lot around here. It’s not uncommon for Abigail to go barefoot to restaurants and stores. I never see the need to wear shoes on a child who will never touch the ground. Shoes are more for warmth than for actual purpose. So her shoes look brand new! Her pants and clothes look brand new too because she never sat and crawled and got dirty. Until now. Her little tennis shoes that go with her braces are dirty! We have been doing a lot of walking in our neighborhood and her shoes show her hard work. Her pants are getting worn where she has been crawling around so much. She has boo boos all over her. Bruises and cuts from crawling around. We had to put on our first band-aid yesterday. It lasted about a minute, but it was our first real boo boo.

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Looking at her boo boo

My almost three-year old is an official toddler! I have no idea how to parent a toddler. I have no idea how long we will be in toddler hood. But I plan to savor every day of this new chapter. My baby girl is growing up. I am excited what her chapter of toddler hood will bring. What mess she will get into or what she will get in trouble for. What her little mind will think of and how fast she will learn new things. I am excited to she her grow stronger and walk more and more. My back is giving out before her legs do now, and that’s scary! I want to keep up with her, but she is literally lapping me. This new chapter will be amazing to watch unfold, and I am thankful for those dirty soles and knee holes!!!

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Little Miss Personality

A lot of people have told me that Abigail and I look the same. I always laugh and tell them it’s just because they haven’t met my husband yet. Abigail and her daddy are twins through and through. At a day old she looked just like him and today she still looks just like him. Jordan loves it! He always says she’s cute just like him. But not only does she look like him, I think she acts like him too.

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The mini Jordan I birthed. She was hours old in this picture.

Now Jordan would say I’m wrong and she is just like me, but it’s a tough decision I guess. She has a sense of humor just like Daddy. I’m more of a corny sort of gal myself, but my husband has his own brand of humor and I think Abigail gets it from him. She can make you laugh at the silliest little things and she knows she is funny. When she snores now she is so used to us laughing at her that she can’t get two snores out before laughing at herself. Jordan is also a very black and white, tell you how it is kind of person. Abigail is honest too. She’s starting to respond to yes and no questions, so if you ask her if she’s getting into things she will say yes. At least for now being honest is a good thing! We just put together her little red wagon that is made for two children. We let her sit in it by herself and we asked if she liked it. She signed yes. Then I asked if she wanted a friend to sit with her and she quickly signed no. We cracked up. Little sass wanted that wagon all to herself.

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Her first smile at 6 days old!

Abigail is and has always been a happy little girl. She rarely cried as a newborn and she always wears a smile on her face. Joy radiates about her. If you really want to make her smile just compliment her in any way. She is all girl and loves to be loved. She knows exactly what you mine when you say beautiful or pretty or cute. And she turns on that charm quick. She is a little flirt and has the head tilt to go with it. She has always liked guys more than woman. Daddy will have to watch this one!

Abigail is also smart and she catches on so quickly. I usually only have to show her how to do something once or twice before she can do it herself. Just this week I have introduced some new signs and she already is using them! She learned how to say, “shh!” with one showing. She has no troubles exploring on her own, and she will often find things we had no idea were even lying around. I guess you could say she is becoming a typical little toddler – showing her some sass and putting everything in her mouth. That girl knows what she wants and she is determined to get it or tell you she does not want what you are offering.

She is awful adventurous too! She loves to be tossed and thrown and jiggled. She is not scared of much, and she is willing to try anything once. She wants to sit up so bad, but then when you pull her up she throws herself back and crashes to the floor and laughs and laughs. It quickly becomes a game for her. She will be our little thrill seeker for sure. That may be more me than her daddy on that one. Us girls are more of the rebels of the family.

Abigail’s personality is blooming! We knew she would always have a sweet joyful little side to her, but now we are seeing the stubbornness and sass coming out. We see her learning and developing into the little lady she is becoming. We see how much of a fighter she is. We see her independence and hunger for more. We see how precious sense of humor, and her awareness of those around her. We see that she is empathic and compassionate. We see that she loves people. She is full of so much personality and we love it!

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Even at a year old she was the silliest thing. I was excited about these llama pajamas, and she was too! One of my favorite pictures of her.

When I was pregnant with Abigail I always dreamed about what she would look like and be like. I always imagined her with brown her and brown eyes (because who would believe that my blonde hair, blue-eyed husband would trump my dominant average genes?), but I never could pinpoint a personality on her. I am so glad she got a little bit of mine and Jordan’s good qualities. I pray she continues to love people and see their goodness like me. I pray she has wisdom like her daddy. I pray her joy never fades, and that her little spunk she has only continues. I know she will always be a fighter. She has to be. She has to be strong and brave and she has to want to do things. Her physical therapist says that is one thing she loves about Abigail – her want to is so prominent that it makes it easy to work with her. If she already has this much personality at two how much will she have later on? And she has never uttered one word! I can only imagine how it would be if she could talk. I guess we will continue to get to know this precious treasure God has given us as her little personality only continues to develop.

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Yes, she loves ice cream. Yes, she is a mess. No, I couldn’t get her to smile because she wanted a bite of ice cream the whole time I was taking pictures.

Our Amazing Wonder

I forget how tall Abigail is. I know that is weird, but I just always forget that she would already come up to my waist if she could stand next to me. She is pushing three feet tall now, but I forget that. When I help her stand using the couch it hits me every time that she is tall. It is such a simple thing, but it always amazes me because I never get to see her stand up. That is how Abigail is though – just little things she does catches you off guard and amazes you.

Abigail never stops to amaze me in what she can do and what she tries to do. Just this week she has been wanting to hold her own cup and drink herself. She has learned to take sips from a glass. She pushes herself up completely with her arms so she’s almost in a sitting position. She is wanting to sit up and stand all the time. She is trying to tuck her legs underneath her to get on all fours. Her signing abilities have improved. She now signs without being prompted, or if she overhears a word she knows while people are talking she will sign it. It is like one thing after another. We missed therapy this week, so when we see our therapists Monday they will be so proud!

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Our big girl enjoying her juice at Chick-fil-a!

It is usually simple things that amaze us, but sometimes it is the simple things that matter most in life. Because Abigail is so far behind developmentally, it is easy to presume she does not understand a lot of things. I am even impressed what all Abigail understands. But just because she cannot communicate does not mean she does not understand. She knows exactly when people are talking to her and when they are not, and she does not liked to be ignored. It is not rare at the dinner table for Jordan to be telling me about his day and Abigail will start screaming at the top of her lungs. Not a scary ‘I’m hurt’ scream, but a ‘look at me I’m cute and you’re not talking to me’ scream. We have tried to ignore her, but usually if you ask her if she has anything else to say she is happy you paid her attention and will allow you to continue your conversation again. And it is not just in person. Abigail loves talking on the phone. I will put the phone on speaker and lock it and hand it to her and she knows to put the phone to her ear and talk. Her and Daddy often talk on the phone and she does the screaming war then too until he talks to her and not Mommie. She is a mess!

Abigail only knows the word yes because we have not taught her no yet. She can sign yes (it’s one of her favorites) and sometimes she will vocally say a little, ‘yay.’ But we realized we had to start teaching her no because she says yes to everything. She knows when you ask a question and she will respond yes. So since she cannot do the real sign for no in sign language her therapist told me to just have her point her finger and turn her wrist back and forth. But Abigail cannot point and wave at the same time yet. So right now if you ask her to say no she simply points at you. It is still cute! But she catches on so quickly! I try to introduce new signs every week, and she always picks them up and uses them. I love being able to communicate better with her, and I think she loves her signs too. When she signs something and you respond to her, Abigail gets the biggest grin on her face – it’s like she is saying, ‘hey you heard what I said!’

And then we come to those legs. When Abigail was about 15 months I got her to stand and my mom snapped a picture. IMG_3679After that I could never get her to do it again. Plus, she was not ready or willing to do it. Now she is! Oh she wants to stand and pull up so bad. Her legs want to work, but they have no idea how to work. Abigail often stands on the side of her feet and her toes remain curled under. But I cannot even change her now without her turning to squirm away or trying to sit up. It amazes me how much she wants this. She is such a little fighter. Her body is literally incapable of sitting or standing, but that does not stop her. She groans and grunts and struggles to do it. Her arms have to be the most toned arms of any two-year-old. But she never gives up. She never stops wanting to try. She never quits. Everyday she learns something new. Everyday she amazes me. Everyday she fights. And that is amazing to me!

 

Growing Up Slowly

When you have a child time seems to speed up somehow. In just a few short months Abigail will be three years old. Where has three years gone? I still remember being pregnant with her. I had horrible night sickness (my morning sickness always hit around 3 and stayed all evening). And around week 12 I remember having multiple thoughts that I was going to die at any point, but the only thing that kept me going was that I was growing another life, and her life mattered too much to give up. But here we are almost three years later and I am glad I kept shoving food down my throat after all because having Abigail was worth all those weeks of sickness.

I have no idea how parents of typical children do it though. I mean an average child is sitting by six months and is walking by a year. They start talking and being independent. They get sassy and push the limits and they know where every button of yours is. Your baby grows up in a blink of an eye! You might get a few cuddles here are there but after they are mobile they don’t sit still for long. Again I just don’t know how you do it!

We have been so blessed in a weird way that Abigail has grown up so slowly. I’ve never thought about that before, but it hit me the other day we are getting a small blessing in disguise. Don’t get me wrong I wish everyday my little girl could walk and run and play like every other 2 year old. I cry that she cannot communicate the way she wants to. But even in the bad things and the things that don’t make sense I truly believe you receive little blessings in disguise. Sometimes you don’t see those blessings while you are in the middle of the storm, but they are there. Abigail herself is my blessing. She is an amazing little lady! But the fact that, as a mother, I get to soak in every stage a little longer is amazing!!!

We had a newborn basically for about 10-12 months. For Abigail’s first year of life she really wasn’t aware of her environment. She just loved watching people’s faces. She had barely any head control and her muscle tone was basically none existent. She was exclusively breast fed, which was not my choice but she wouldn’t eat baby food very well so we did what we had to do. That first year was hard!! Abigail did not show a lot of progress. We had no idea what was going on. We had no clue how to take care of a baby, much less a baby that doctor’s kept telling us ‘wasn’t normal.’ The doctors kept telling us things that we didn’t understand or that we didn’t like. We loved our baby and she was the happiest, easiest newborn ever so it was hard for us to see anything ‘wrong’ with her. Around a year old she was still around 5-6 months developmentally, so I got to savor those newborn moments for longer.

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Abigail around 7 months – she was still the sweetest thing you ever saw! But she had no interest in those toys you see. We always tried new things though.

Then her second year of life came and things started to progress. She became more aware of her environment, she started to like food, and she showed true potential physically. We began to learn we didn’t have to listen to everything the doctors said. We began to learn the system and find things that were helpful for us. We had amazing therapists that encouraged me and worked with Abigail diligently. But I was still able to savor those baby moments longer because she was around a 6-9 month old developmentally.

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This picture means the world to me! Abigail was around 15 months in this picture. I left her on the couch to go get ready (crazy huh? but she never moved so it worked for us), and I returned to a smiley baby and an overturned bucket of toys! I snapped a quick picture because I was so excited! This was the first time Abigail had ‘played’ on her own!!!

Today, we have hope like we have never had before. Abigail is doing the best she has ever done. She is eating (and a lot of times helping herself) normal table food, she is moving, she is learning to play in new ways, and she is trying to communicate like never before. We are in such an exciting time! I feel so much more confident in what I am doing. Medically Abigail is healthy and at this point her doctor is simply trying to find the cause of why she is the way she is. But if they never give us an answer I will be okay because she is progressing forward every day.

Abigail is still only around a year old developmentally maybe 18 months in some areas cognitively. But if course she cannot sit or stand yet. But for almost three years I have gotten to savor what most parents only have 1 year to experience. It is like time has slowed in our house. This means we get to see the tiny little steps of progress and we celebrate the tiny victories. This means that sometimes the days are long! I get tired of having to lug her everywhere, because goodness she is getting heavy!! Sometimes it would be so convenient if she could sit because we could do so many more things. Sometimes I have to be creative while we are out, and about, and going to a bathroom with her in a public restroom when I forget the stroller is a trip. But I am savoring!

We may be in the toddler stage for a long time. Honestly, she may never leave it. We have no idea what Abigail’s future holds. I tell people all the time. Abigail has the potential to be a 100% normal 5th grader who you wouldn’t even know went through all this when she was 2. On the other hand she could be living with us forever because she never leaves childhood mentally. We have no idea what her future holds. But right now I know we are hitting the toddler stage hard, and after 2 years of being in baby stage that is tough on this mama. I’m watching Abigail grow and mature everyday. I see my baby growing into a little girl. She is beautiful in every way!! And while she might not be growing up like every other toddler, I appreciate that she is growing slowly. It gives my mama heart time to soak in every moment, every change, and every day with my little sunshine. While I wouldn’t have chosen this life for us, I am blessed to have a little one who is growing up slowly.

Her Stubbornness

Stubbornness runs in our family. My grandparents were and still are entrepreneurs, making glass wind chimes now for over 40 years. Jordan’s grandparents are still active and going and his grandfather still works 8-5 at his job at 72 years old. The stubbornness shows itself in our parents as well. And goodness does it show up in us! We can never decide on who is more stubborn between Jordan and me because we are too stubborn to admit who is more stubborn. We are a mess! So then you have two very stubborn people make a baby, and guess what? That baby is as stubborn as both parents put together.

Stubbornness is often seen as a bad thing, and often it is. It prevents you from seeing the other side of the argument.  It keeps you from listening to wise council. It stops you from enjoying things you could otherwise enjoy. But as stubborn as Abigail is, I am very thankful for that quality in her. Sure it is annoying when you try to tell her no and she just keeps doing what she was doing while laughing in your face. Sure I would like her to actually do what I say instead of what Abigail wants to do all the time. And sure we butt heads a lot and I get very annoyed with her. But that stubbornness in her is what makes her a little miracle child.

Let me explain. So our journey all began at Abigail’s two month check up. Everything was great and we had a perfectly healthy little baby in our arms, except the doctor told us he was very concerned with her vision. We knew she had wonky eyes, but we figured all newborns had poor vision, well apparently not this bad. Here are some pictures from Abigail’s first year. You can see how she constantly looked up.

We saw two eye doctors and one neurologist at this point and none of them could explain Abigail’s vision. But by 18 months her eyes had corrected themselves with no help from anyone. Her eyes simply came down by themselves. We worked on some tracking exercises and things like that with her OT, but that’s it. Her eyes still get cross eyed and a little shaky today so that is why Abigail wears her glasses, but compared to how they looked when she was 3 months old her eyes look perfect.

Her stubbornness is vital for Abigail because without her motivation to want to move and play and be little Miss Independent she would not be improving. Yes, her therapists are amazing and I am beyond grateful for each of them. Yes, working with her at home helps. But it is Abigail who wants to pull herself around. It is Abigail who wanted to start feeding herself. We tried for almost two years to make that kid feed herself and she never would hold a scrap of food, and then one day I just laid some goldfish on her tray to feed her and she picked them up and put them in her mouth like she was a feeding expert. Until Abigail wants to do something she does not do it. I know she can get herself around and I try to make her pull herself if I just go in to the next room. But she refuses to move until she wants to.

I truly believe if Abigail has a will she has a way. If she is willing to work and move and play then she does. She has shown that these last few months. Her awareness and wanting to move around has come out of no where and now she scoots and pulls and plays like never before. I still do not know where the motivation to move came from, but I wish I knew! But when the day comes for her to be ready to stand on those wobbly little legs of her I know she will be stubborn enough to figure out what she needs to. I always tell people that for being one of the most dependent toddlers in the world, Abigail is the most independent little thing you will ever meet. I know that spells trouble for Jordan and me as she gets older, but for now I love that she is a little stubborn, independent little blonde headed ball of motivation.

 

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Toddlerhood

I love this stage with Abigail. She is learning so much, and she wants to learn. I often feel inadequate to teach her because I don’t know what she is capable of, and I often don’t know how to teach her. But I am glad she is willing to learn with me and be patient as I learn with her. She picks up things so quickly whether it’s a new sign for communication or how to make her body move the way she wants it to. Her therapists are so pleased with her progress, and they are working just as hard to get her to sit and grow too! I mean just look at her sitting on the steps. She looks like such a big girl now, and I love it. My little baby is growing up slowly but surely.

As much as this is an exciting time for us all, it is also a frustrating time. We are at a weird stage right now. Abigail wants to be a toddler so bad. She wants independence and freedom. She is smart and growing everyday. From the outside she looks like a big girl. But physically she is only at about a 8 month old level (well an 8 month old who can’t sit or stand yet). It’s tough. It’s frustrating. Do you know how hard it is to play with toys when you can’t sit yet? We are limited by what we can do. Even as I took the picture of her sitting on the steps, looking so big, she fell over before I could catch her and hit her head pretty hard against the wall. That’s our life. A mix of wanting to be a big girl, but being limited by what she can do. I am just glad she has been a champ so far and is taking things so well.

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Yes, that is my toddler lifting a 2 pound weight. No, I do not let her play with weights. She just happened to find them during one of my workouts. But she can lift 2 pounds!!

I think the worst thing for us right now is not the lack of physical ability, but the lack of communication. Because we have no way of communication we get frustrated at each other. She’s beginning to want certain things or not want certain things but I’m not sure what she needs all the time. She is becoming more and more aware of her environment which is exciting, but that means she is almost waking up cognitively. She can get sassy sometimes with what she wants or does not want, and I am struggling to keep up with all her new awareness. Since I’m with her all day I can usually keep up with her needs, but there are times I have no idea what she is thinking. Thankfully we are slowly learning signs, and I pray her speech continues to improve so I can help her. I do not want her physical handicaps to slow down her cognitive development.

Bed time is another frustration for us right now. She seems to never be tired, so at 9 we make our way up to her bedroom. We read a book or two and sing a song then it’s to bed. I have to lay beside her because she scream cries if I leave her side. And I swear she has no idea how to cry because she never does, so she then gets all chocked up and it’s just a big mess. So I lay beside her and she wiggles and tossed and turns. It takes about an hour for her to finally go to sleep. So now it’s about 10:30 and I’m tired and frustrated. I miss time with Jordan in the evening. It’s just a big mess. So we are attempting some changes this week to see if they help us all. I hope they help!!

But even with all this newness and learning going on Abigail is so happy all the time. Sometimes I wish she was not. I know that sentence is weird, but sometimes her constant good moods are a detriment for her. For example this past week was r-o-u-g-h. But she seemed like a champ the whole time. Unless you know her super well you would have no idea anything was wrong with her. We started the week off constipated. It’s a struggle we often have since Abigail doesn’t move a lot. But she hadn’t gone to the bathroom for a week and the pediatrician put us on Miralax. So now I’m a worried mama about that, but of course Abigail just continues to eat like normal and not cry. I could tell she was a bit off because she was clingy and not as talkative but no one else would see that. Then this weekend we had a wedding in our family and her whole schedule was thrown off! She did not sleep much. She did not eat like normal. She was cooped up a lot. Nothing was normal on top of being constipated. What a weekend for us all!! But through it all she just laughed and was her normal self. Only at the wedding reception did she start showing the wear and tear from the long week. And then she simply just wasn’t smiley. She’s a mess!

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Her sleeping off her hard weekend. She slept so much after the wedding, and I am so thankful!

But that’s toddlerhood in our house. It’s a weird mixture of growth, excitiment and frustration. I have a two year old who has a lot of struggles other two year olds have, but they cannot be treated the same way. I have a two year old who wants to learn and be independent, yet is highly dependent on me. I have a two year old who wants to be social, but cannot express her needs. I have a two year old who often is tired or hungry, yet is laughing and smiling so most people have no idea that she really needs a nap. This is our life in toddlerhood for now. I hope Abigail continues to progress and grow. I love seeing her personality bloom. I love seeing her explore and learn. And I love that she is becoming a big girl day by day. But I also hope her limited communication and physical ability does not slow her down. I think every parent of toddlers would tell you every day is a rollercoaster, but to see that tiny little one grow into a little person is something I would not miss for the world!

We are on a Move

Well folks she is off! Well kind of. Abigail will not be winning any races soon, but she is moving. It is exciting to say the least. She can flip herself over, and she loves tummy time now. That in itself is a huge deal. Tummy time has been a struggle for us from the beginning, but lately she will stay on her tummy for an hour at a time. She can pivot around any direction she chooses. And she can push herself backwards like a champ. We are even starting to see her wanting to come forward. Her little legs are trying their hardest to get under her, but they just do not quite know what to do yet. Abigail has never used her legs a day in her life, so the fact that her legs even are attempting to do something is a miracle. I know this does not sound that impressive on paper. I mean we have a two year old who still cannot sit, stand, walk or talk on her own. But if you could have seen her even 6 months ago, the fact that she has this much mobility is amazing.

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Our little leap frog, learning to push herself forward!

To say we are excited would be an understatement. We have been waiting for some mobility for, well two years now. And Abigail loves it! She rolls and scoots and pivots everywhere now. I love just setting her down with her toys and watching her play. Every parent loves when their child reaches milestones. You smile the first time they sit, and cheer when they take their first step. A sense of pride just wells up in your heart. But imagine that your baby never sits on their own even when they are 9 months old. Imagine seeing other babies your child’s age crawling and walking while you are still trying to just get your child to play with a toy for a minute. It is very discouraging. We have waited for this for so long, and to see her with this limited mobility is huge. It is even more rewarding when you have to wait for things to come.

And while we are excited about her moving and growing in strength, we are trying to teach her there is a time to play and a time to sleep. Abigail believes sleep time is play time. She wants to wiggle and roll and play when we lay her in bed. It is cute but when it’s midnight and she is still rolling around it becomes not too cute. I am exhausted. She is exhausted. These late nights are wearing on both of us. We have taken her mattress out of her crib and lay beside her now and literally hold her down to keep her from wiggling. We are trying to teach her that bedtime is bedtime. Last night it worked. She was asleep within 30 minutes as opposed to the 2-3 hours it takes usually. Now we just need to get a bigger mattress and I think she may just learn to put herself to sleep.

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How I found her one morning this week. She was dead asleep, but had managed to turn herself around and still perfectly land on the pillow. How?

If you would have told me six months ago that this girl would be keeping me up until all hours of the night because she would not stop moving I would have just rolled my eyes at your positive craziness. But that craziness is coming true! Just today I was talking with Jordan, and he said, “Maybe this girl will learn to walk after all.” Just maybe we will have a child who will be mobile. We still have a looong ways to go. Right now a snail could beat Abigail in a race, but the fact that she is so motivated and excited to move means she will keep trying. Abigail will keep learning. She will only continue to get stronger, and maybe just maybe we might have a little crawler in our hands.

Now here’s to baby proofing our house. Yikes!

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