Monday, December 30, 2013

The Big Christmas Wrap-Up

It's hard to believe that Christmas has come and gone, again.

It was our third wonderful Christmas with this girl. 

We spent most of the week with my family in their new little house, after they downsized this summer.  It was a fun, chaotic, crazy mess of people and food, and cousins in close quarters.

I keep thinking that "next year Cora will understand Christmas and she'll be excited."  But it hasn't happened yet so far.  Although she did enjoy signing "Santa," "magic," and "Merry Christmas!"

And she definitely got into gifts, once again.  We kept her gifts pretty modest this year, as we have in the past, knowing that she will be spoiled by other family members, and that we don't want to overwhelm her and ourselves with a ton more stuff.  But the gifts that she did get were special, indeed.

One of the best is her new big girl doll, Lulu, given to her on Christmas Eve.  Grammie hand-made a doll with all up-cycled materials for each of her grandchildren this year, complete with small wardrobes, and spent probably at least a hundred hours between the two.

Kai was a little faster at opening his big boy doll, Twig.

But Cora took her time until her Lulu came into view.  The first thing she did when she saw her new dolly was to give her a big fat kiss and a hug.  I think it melted her Grammie's heart.

What a happy girl! (Especially after stripping Lulu of all her clothes... one of her current favorite activities.)

And baby cousin Carys got her own first baby, Clementine.

Cora enjoyed the rest of the morning, unwrapping and playing, watching her cousin get excited, and getting snuggles from some of her favorite family members.

Seeing cousin Kai open his "Very Merry Christmas Corderoy"doll and a small matching doll for his new friend Twig was one of the most fun moments of the morning.

And the rest of us spent an awful lot of time doing this...

Crowding around my sister Mira's two-month old daughter Carys, who is just as captivating and lovely as you can imagine a baby to be.  

The cousins were pretty interested in her too.  Cora kissed her, touched her, smelled her and said "stinky," and patted her little bottom, announcing, "booty."  I'd say so far it's her most successful baby interaction, and it made us all very happy to see.

Kai loves Carys too, and asked his mom if he could take her home. But every once in a while, in a very almost-three-year-old boy fashion, he tested the limits.  Like when he wanted to see if Carys wanted to wrestle with a big stuffed lizard.  Luckily Carys is a tough girlie.

Overall it was lovely and over way too fast.

And although we spent from Thanksgiving to Christmas trying to keep Cora from getting sick, including postponing family visits and making anyone with a tickle wear a mask in our house, we were foiled again!  Some of my family members had been sick, so we tried to keep away until it seemed the contagion had died down, but on the last day of the trip my dad came down with cold symptoms and Cora quickly followed suit.

She seems to be doing OK, although she's started coughing a bit.  And boy, do I hate hearing a cough from her.  It's one thing when you can count on a cold to be a cold, but my girlie has had way more bouts of pneumonia than I am comfortable with already, and she is pretty susceptible.  So we're keeping our fingers crossed that her lungs stay clear, and that we can soon be thankful that she only got a small cold.  Of course, Nick and I seem to be falling sick too, so we are capping off our happy holidays with time at home, resting under lockdown.

It feels way too familiar after such a long spring of illness.

Here's to hoping for a healthy 2014.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013


We had quite the treat this weekend.  My sister Erin, her husband Jonny and their son Kai came to our house to visit!

We had a lovely time sitting around in our jammies, taking the kids to see a music show, visiting OMSI, the local science museum, and celebrating my birthday with a fantastic breakfast.

But the really exciting part was watching the two cousins interact and even play together.  Cora has slowly been getting more comfortable around kids over the past couple of months, so I was looking forward to seeing how she'd do around Kai. The last several times they've traveled across the country to visit, Cora's response to Kai has has ranged from wary to terrified.

But this time around she warmed up pretty well.  They were able to play with the same toys and games on more than one occasion.  She even signed, "I love you" to her big cousin.  I can't wait for them to be able to spend more time together when we go up my parents' place for Christmas.

Sharing a puzzle at OMSI.

Showing Kai her favorite apps.

Monday, December 16, 2013

Reindeer Games

Last weekend I learned a fun new thing about my husband.

We were planning out our day, when I suggested that we go to a nearby nursery to show Cora some reindeer.  He gave me a funny look and said, "You mean deer..."  I told him that, no, I meant reindeer.

He gave me another one of those funny looks and told me that reindeer aren't real.

After laughing for a good while, off we went to see the reindeer.

I am surprised that Cora actually smiled in this photo.  She was an unhappy mess during the whole 7 minutes of our visit, most likely because she detests cold weather.

To commemorate Nick's new discovery, here he shows you some facts about reindeer.  

Turns out they do more than pull Santa's sleigh.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

This and That and a Christmas Tree

I've been remiss in posting much of anything these days.  My actions have not been living up to my intentions.

There have been a couple of noteworthy things from the past few weeks that are worth sharing.

First off, she had a cardiology appointment, the first one in two years.  And it went great!  I had anxiety that we'd have to hold down a screaming girl for her echo, or that even worse, she'd refuse altogether and would have to schedule one under anesthesia.  But I shouldn't have worried.  She giggled through the EKG, pulled off her own stickers, kept asking for them back, and then sat in my lap and watched Curious George while the echocardiogram was performed.

The results were as good as last time.  No problems with valve leakage, which is pretty rare with that type of surgery.  No problems whatsoever.  She doesn't have to go back for another THREE years! 

So that was exciting news.

She also recently had her evaluation with the school district as she prepares to exit Early Intervention (for those that aren't familiar, it's the in-home special education program for children birth to three years old.)  In Oregon, IEPs don't start until a child is 5, so Cora will still have an IFSP.  But she will be graduating to a new program and a new team, and will be leaving behind the beloved teacher that has been with her since she was a tiny baby.  That sad day will be coming way too fast!

The evaluation itself surprised me.  I was able to choose that they NOT perform a standardized test, which, due to Cora's defiant nature, would probably have revealed that she had no measurable skills at all.  So they observed her and asked me questions.  Overall the report was OK.  Much of it seemed pretty accurate and listed goals that seem reasonable for her.  But there were a couple areas where they obviously underestimated her and suggested goals that she has mastered long ago.  I guess when you have a child who doesn't perform on cue for strangers, or who gets distracted by a huge pile of toys and doesn't want to be directed to "boring" activities, that's what you get.  I plan to write a letter for her file and list the things that she is already able to do, and disagree with the portions that don't sit well with me.

In two weeks we will meet with her current Early Intervention team and her new Early Childhood team and set goals for services.  We aren't planning on having her start preschool right when she turns three.  So she will continue to get services at home, but with a new team.  She will most likely wait and start in September in a more traditional private preschool, rather than go to the school district's special education preschools.  For now that seems like the best choice for us.  Although I know she will likely benefit a lot from the social aspects of preschool, I really don't think there will be any harm in waiting an extra eight months. 

Other than that, we've been indulging in winter traditions, trying to coax Cora out into the cold, and listening to lots of Christmas music.  We will have family in town again soon, and then will be at my parents' house for Christmas.  The rest of the month is bound to be a wild, crazy, busy and fun adventure.

I'll leave you with some photos of us getting our third Christmas tree with Cora.  It was way better than the tears that accompanied last year's visit to the tree farm.  And she has even enjoyed helping decorate. 


Happy Holidays!