Saturday, June 23, 2012

The Ways in Which They Blow Me Away (Part Two: The Baby Child!)

And, this one.  She's blowing me the eff away too.  Mostly with her go-go-go.  This girl is ON THE MOVE.  She doesn't stop.  I truly haven't kept track of milestones, so I'm not sure when it happened, but sometime soon after six months, Mia started combat crawling.  We were blown away, and then it felt like within days, she was up on hands and knees and going.  Slowly at first, and then, just like that, she was off.  Now, she's pulling up on everything in sight, whether its sturdy enough to hold her weight or not, and she's so fluidly pulling up, getting herself back to the floor, off to crawling . . . go go go. 

She doesn't stop.  It's funny.   It's mind-blowing.  It's all new to us.  B jokes that she's like a little wind-up toy because she just goes goes goes.  When she sees something across the room that she wants, she goes toward it, fast, mouth open, panting with excitement, like a little puppy dog.  Many, many times that something across the room she wants is one of our laps, but she comes to us, and climbs into our lap for mere seconds before she's off again, too busy to be held and snuggled.  I try to put her in the floor with toys all around her while I shower and she makes a beeline for whatever non-toy thing she can find that might hurt her (like the computer cords).

I can't even capture a good picture of Mia - they are all so blurry because she's on the move.  I get out the camera, and she comes toward me, mouth open, panting, so excited to see what I have.  So, I have a whole lot of blurry pictures of the little babe crawling right toward me.  Blowing me away.

When I dropped Mia off at daycare the other day, she saw a toy she wanted and another baby in the way, so she crawled OVER the other baby without missing a beat.  It's that energy that makes me giggle when I think of Mia.  She's a ball of sunshine and energy and happy.

When the girls visited me at work on my birthday, one of my friends said "Mia is such a ball of sunshine."  And, its true, she is.  She gets frustrated because she wants to go-go-go (like she wants to cruise and walk and run but of course, her body isn't ready to) but mostly, she just radiates sunshine and happy.   I cannot look at her without smiling.  

I'm constantly struck by how different she is than her sister.  And, not just in the ways we expected.  Not just because one of them has a movement disorder and one doesn't, but just in fundamental ways, they are unique.  Their own little people.  Whereas Sammie B, as a baby, and still today, studies things before she's ready to touch (like a new toy, she'd just look at it, and softly push buttons until she'd figured it all out, or she'd study it and wait for us to show her), Mia lunges for new things, including toys, and tries to just bang them into submission.  

When we skype with B's parents, Mia just wants the computer.  To bang on it.  She crawls as fast as she can toward it, over and over, and we keep pulling her back, over and over, and she gets so mad.  

She's started babbling more and more and the "mamamamama" has started - I'm not sure its with intention yet, but it makes my heart skip a beat just the same. 

We all went out to dinner tonight, and B and I sat on one side of the table with the girls next to each other on the other side, and he said, "can you believe they are both ours?  If we never do anything else right in this life, we did this right." So true.  These girls are amazing.  They blow me away.  

Mia is still oh-so-fascinated with her sister, and wants to climb all over her.  This part is hard for Sammie B - I think its hard that Mia is literally in Sammie B's personal space, climbing on her, and Sammie B can't just run away.  We get a WHOLE LOT of "No Mia NO!" and Sammie B gets so upset, but we are working on sharing . . . both things AND space.  I guess this one has me a little stumped because I "get" that its not fair to Sam.  I "get" that she wants her space.   It's just a tough part of this journey to navigate.   

Even though we are running into those moments of frustration, the amazing moments are there . . . we picked Mia up from daycare today and she immediately pulled to stand to be right next to Sammie (who was in the wagon) and leaned into Sammie B's face and just giggled with glee.  Sammie B leaned over and said, "Mia you are a funny girl!"  And, another day, we took them on a wagon ride and B commented on how quiet Mia was being and Sammie B leaned over, took her sister's hands, and said, "Mia you are being so good!"   Amazing.  They blow me away.  

As I watch Mia's movements, the "typically developing" kind, I am blown away.  I look at how she goes into side sitting so fluidly, pulls to stand, all the tiny pieces we worked so hard on in PT with Sam.   Sam's PT once told me (when I said I didn't get why side-sitting was so important) to go to the park and watch how the typically developing babies moved.  How they used side-sitting to transition.  Watching Mia, I get it.  I'd be lying if I said there wasn't a little dose of "bittersweet" in all this.  Watching it happen the typical way.  Without PT.  Wishing it could be this way for Sammie B.  Wishing I could make it easier for her.  There's a ton of guilt in watching Mia speed across the floor and admitting that I feel sad for Sam. Those "No Mia No" moments really get to me.  Because I can't fix it.  I can't make an eight month old understand that her sister really doesn't want her climbing on her, and I can't make it so that Sammie B can run away.  I've had such guilt over these feelings, because I want so badly to let Sammie B's story be hers and Mia's to be hers, but here's the thing . . . our stories are intermingled.  They just are.  So, they are our stories, and we are all better people, leading richer lives because they are shared.

Sammie B truly has taught us not to take anything for granted.  She has taught us what hard work and perseverance look like, she has taught us not to take one word or movement for granted.   And now, we bring that lens, that perspective to parenting Mia, who is teaching us things too.  Who is blowing us away, just as her sister does, though in different ways.

For those that know the "Welcome to Holland" poem and the Italy/Holland analogy (you can google if you don't), B and I had a long talk the other night about our "dual citizenship."  (As an aside on that poem, I know special needs mamas all have very different reactions when they read it, and here's mine. I like it.  I think it has helped give B and I a very simple metaphor that's allowed us to talk about this journey when we might not have otherwise found the words, but I don't like that it kind of makes it seem like "Holland" is less than "Italy."  It's not.  Different, yes, but less than, no.).   Anyway . . . the other night, B and had a talk about our new "dual citizenship" so to speak, and he said exactly what I'd been thinking . . . that going to Holland and then Italy somehow makes both places all the more beautiful and our existence all the more rich.   Somehow, we are finding our way though Italy and Holland together, as a family of four, and marveling in the joy and richness of both.  In seeing the tiny details.  And all those details are just blowing us away.

Sammie B is the little girl who made us "mama" and "dada" but every single day, we are learning from both of them.   Mia is bringing us balance, in a way that I just can't describe.  A lightness that we are all benefiting from.   And growing from.  

Suddenly, I'm not just "Sammie B's mama," I'm "Mia's Mama."   And it feels so good.  I like being theirs.  

A perfect (okay, nearly perfect) four.  Balanced.  

Thursday, June 21, 2012

The Ways in Which They Blow Me Away (PART One: The Big Girl)

And, here I am.   Back in the blogosphere.

Lately, I think I must look at one of my girls (or both of them), at what they are doing, and think to myself (or say out loud to B), "she just effin blows me away," at least 20 times a day.   It's true.  There aren't really any very articulate words to describe that feeling in those moments, except that . . . they effin blow me away.

Lately, with Sammie B, it is her words.  With with her low-tone (and the difficulty in breath control that comes along with that), talking isn't easy for her.  Saying long sentences isn't easy for her.  Her articulation is still imperfect, using her oral muscles with enough precision to articulate some sounds isn't easy for her.  For so long, she's preferred one-word utterances (she still does prefer them) but we always, always knew what she was trying to say with her short phrases/one-word sentences, and we'd fill in the rest for her.  So, a conversation might go like this: 

Me:  "Hey, Sammie B - look - there's a monkey!"  [Um, you know because we regularly pass monkeys in L.A. - okay, so I'm probably talking about a stuffed monkey.]

Sammie B:  "Me!!!"

Me:  "You want that monkey!"

Sammie B:  "Yeah! Monkey Movie!"

Me:  "I know, you LOVED the monkey movie, didn't you?"  (She LOVED the Disney Chimpanzee documentary; we saw it twice)

Sammie B:  "Dada!" 

Me:  "Yep, Dada took you to see that movie!" 

See?  So, even though she's been talking for awhile, WE were the ones doing most of the conversation for her.  Guessing at what she was trying to say (with a great deal of accuracy, but still . . . ).  We were filling in the holes for her.

Lately, though, things are changing.  And, BLOWING ME THE EFF AWAY.  I think that's part of the beauty of this journey.  We take nothing for granted.  We truly appreciate and marvel at every word, every strung together phrase.  Every question.  And that's just it . . . it is the questions that are blowing me away the most right now.   It started many months ago with "What's dat?" when she saw a picture of a person playing bochi ball in an italian restaurant we were eating at.  B and I both looked at each other with that twinkle and pride in our eyes and said, "she just asked her first question!"   Then she started asking everyone she met "what's your name?"    And now, over time, these questions . . . wow.   So, many questions.  And, I promise you this - I never tire of them.  I really don't (though I may have just answered "because I said so" to "why?" this weekend).

I'll give you some examples:

Last weekend, B was sick, and I told Sammie B that dada was feeling sick.  For the rest of the weekend, she kept asking him "what are you feeling?"  (as an aside, she also kept telling him to take some of her CoQ10, which is pretty stinking funny).  

Every time one of us is in the kitchen, she says "what are you making?"  (which my mom thought was funny, since we so rarely "make" anything in our kitchen!)

She now asks "What are we going to do?" and the other day, I said, "we are going home right now" (we were driving) and she said, "I know.  Then what are we going to do."  EFFIN blown away by her words. 

One day we were leaving her doctor's office and she asked what we were going to do and I said, "we have to stop at one store," and she said, "what is it called?" and I said, "CVS," to which shes said, "what are we going to buy?"  I told her we were going to buy a new thermometer, and she said, "animal."  I said, "I don't think they sell animals there," and she said (this is amongst my favorite Sammie B moments ever):  "yeah they do and I want to buy one!"   Guess what?  We bought a stuffed animal there!

A few of my other favorite things from the mouth of my big girl lately:

- "That was so funny!" (She says this one a lot, she puts her hand to her mouth, throws her head back, giggles and says, "dat was so bunny!" as if whatever was just said truly is the most hysterical thing she's ever seen or heard.)

- When we tell her "no," (usually when she's asked "Can I watch one Dora please?") she says in a very bossy little way "YOU CAN SAY YEAH!"   That one is particularly funny because she totally got it from me.  I always joke that B is, more often than not, the "no man" (he's way tougher than me, I'm a sucker) and so I say to him in those moments, "okay, B, you know, you can say yeah!"

- One day I was explaining to her that her nanny wouldn't be going to school with her the next day as she usually does, but that B would drop her off and just before I got to the part where I was going to tell her that I'd pick her up, she said (with such joy) "and mama gonna pick you up!"   He words are so funny - she's totally getting the idea of present tense/past tense, but the whole "you/me/I" thing is harder, and it is just so cute.  

- We knew it would be hard for her when Mia started really moving.  We have really, really tried to make it into something fun and Sammie B has been ah-maz-ing about clapping and cheering her sister on with "Go Mia Go!" as Mia tears off crawling across the floor.  Well, now, Miss Sammie B is doing some new movement herself -- she's finally butt-scooching forward.   She's been going backward forever but wouldn't do it forward.  So, now, whenever Mia is crawling, Sammie B starts butt-scooching after her and we say "Go Sammie Go, Go Mia Go!" and Sammie B always says, "I'm going! I'm going!"   [As an aside, butt-scooching sure isn't the most efficient way of getting around, but the beauty in it doesn't escape us, not even for a second.  In it, we see progress.   Motivation to move.  Possibility.  We take nothing for granted.]

- We've been trying to teach Mia words, with Sammie B's help, so we'll pat our own chests and say, "I'm mama!" and "I'm dada!"  Well, Miss Sammie thinks there's NOTHING funnier than patting her own chest and saying "I'm mama!" or "I'm dada!" and then dying in a fit of giggles and saying "NO! I'm Dammie!"  

- One night we asked Sammie B if she'd like to go on a "date" with B.  (We try really hard for one of us to take Sammie B to do something without Mia just one night each weekend or week) and she said, "what are we going to do?"  B said they'd go see a movie and she looked at me and said, "mama, you can come with us."   Isn't she the sweetest?!

- We switch off who does each girl's bedtime each night and lately, Sammie B always wants me (heart melts!)   I'll say "Dada is going to read your stories now," and she'll say, "No, Dada do Mia bedtime!"   I dig it. 

These words.  We are oh-so-grateful for every word that comes from her mouth (sigh, even the "NOs" that come oh-so-frequently at age 3), because we are so very, very aware of how blessed we are to know her voice.  To hear her thoughts.  Her likes/her dislikes (lately, she tells us two things she doesn't like - pineapple and sitting on the potty, in no particular order).   She negotiates with us.  More play time before bath or bed, more bites of dessert, less bites of the non-chocolate foods. 

Her voice.  Her giggles.  Her.   Blows me away. 
We know that forming words and sentences is hard for her.  We know that.  But, she's doing it.  And, it is just blowing me away.   She makes me oh-so-proud.

May I always remember that whether something is "easy" or "hard" for Sammie B simply won't determine whether she does it or  not.  This girl is hard-work defined. 

Monday, June 18, 2012

Happy "Dada" Day!

I really can't believe I've gone over a month without posting.   I really have no other excuse, other than that work (and life) is keeping me so busy.  So busy.   I will most definitely have to do a bullet-point 'catch up' post to get myself back in the blogging game, but for now, I bring you our "Dada's Day."    (I'm pretty sure Sammie B told B "Happy Dada Day!" - with total glee and excitement in her voice - at least 90 times yesterday.   Magic).

Last week, I gave B several choices of what he wanted to do for Father's Day . . . a hike, tide pools, beach, bowling . . . and he picked bowling.  So, with two kiddos under four, we bowled (giving ourselves a 10 for ambitiousness!). 

Things started off a little dicey.  Sammie B has started this "thing" where she gets scared and clingy in brand new situations/environments, which I'm told is totally age-appropriate -- that kids seem to develop new fears around 3 to 4.  Age-appropriate or not, the whole thing has totally thrown us for a loop because the clingy, crying, scared thing is just new for her and us.  And, in the moments, when she's in the throes of the fear/panic, all I want to do is and I dont't know how, other than to hug her, reassure her, and keep coaxing her.  So, that's what we did.   And, after crying, refusing to bowl, and wrapping herself around me in utter and complete melt-down mode, she did TRY it, and we all had a grand time!  

Dada and his girls: 

Giving bowling a shot:

SUPER serious bowler face:

And this little lady just crawled after B every time he went to bowl:

Showing Mia how its done:

Enjoying a soft pretzel (guess what?  she's no longer gluten-free.  We took all gluten out of her diet when she was just under a year old and had an allergic reaction to wheat.  At her pediatrician's advice, we waited three years before re-introducing and NO ALLERGY!  Bring on the carbs!)

I was there too . . .

To B, the "dada" to my "mama."  Here's to our little family of four, here's to living, laughing and loving, even in the hard times. 

Here's to "Dada Day."   It was a happy one indeed.