Five Years

by Kayte

Five years ago Max and Lola came into our lives unexpectedly and tumultuously. We set out on a parenting journey that we weren’t prepared for, but it has taught us so much about love and strength and who we are and what we are capable of. In the years since their birth we have celebrated countless victories, overcome unimaginable adversity, experienced unconditional love, and felt our hearts break into a million pieces.

In the early days I naively thought that “this NICU thing” would be over when we finally brought Max and Lola home from the hospital, but I have since realized that this is something that, for better and for worse, will shape us for the rest of our lives. I’ve often wondered if I would go back and change things if I could, and I think as parents we would do anything to protect our kids, but I wouldn’t trade them for anything.

We remind ourselves that we are incredibly lucky to have our family together; thriving, happy, mostly healthy. Every day together is a miracle, even in, especially in, those most mundane of moments when things just feel ordinary. Happy 5th birthday Max and Lola. We are in awe of you. We are SO proud of you. We Love You.


Private Rooms

by Kayte

A big milestone this weekend – we moved the kids into their own rooms! They were starting to grow out of their toddler beds, and they were definitely starting to distract each other more and more at bed time, so we decided it was time. Max stayed in the room they were sharing and has a twin bed with a pull-out, and Lola moved into what was our guest room and has a big queen bed (that we may still use for guests from time to time). At first the kids were resistant to the change, but now they both really like their big kid beds and new decor. And this afternoon they both spent some time playing alone in their respective rooms, which is a milestone in itself. Previously the bedroom was just for sleeping and they usually played in the common areas, but I think they like the feeling of having their own space in the house.


IEP Graduation

by Kayte

We had Max’s annual IEP (Individualized Education Plan) meeting at school today and he has officially graduated from special education services. He will start a general ed kindergarten class in the fall. From 25-weeker to average 5-year-old. Amazing.

Due to a clerical mix-up Lola’s IEP meeting isn’t scheduled until May 17th, which we are super upset about because it leaves a lot of things up in the air for the next two months. But their assessment calendar is so booked they couldn’t change it. Sigh.


Bittersweet Anniversary

by Kayte

Today marks the one-year anniversary of Lola’s discharge from her month-long hMPV-/MRSA-pneumonias + fungal-infection-scare hospital stay. It’s been a rough medical year since then; we’ve dealt with chronic ear infections, multiple surgeries, and another pneumonia hospitalization. Worse than that is the fear that grips us every time Lola spikes a fever, and a loss of confidence in our normalcy that I didn’t experience post-NICU. I’m conflicted between feeling invincible because we have conquered so much, and feeling that we have cheated death and are flying too close to the sun. Looking back at where we started I am in awe of the miracle of life and medicine, but I am also all too aware of their fragility and limitations. Ignorance is bliss as they say, and we have learned much these last five years. I am hoping time will heal these emotional wounds, as time continues to heal our little miracles and grow them into strong[er], [more] resilient little kids.

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On a more normal note, we spent the morning at the pediatrician’s office with two mildly sick kids. Poor Maxie has had a cough since last Monday and a runny nose that got markedly worse over the weekend. Max’s O2 sats were on the low-end of normal and the doctor said his lungs sounded wheezy, so we’re starting breathing treatments and have a prescription for antibiotics if Max doesn’t get better in the next day or two. Lola spiked a little fever this morning and had one goopy eye, but luckily her lungs sounded clear as a bell (yay steroids!). The pediatrician suspects that Max might be on the recovery side of this bug while Lola might just be starting it, but we have an antibiotic prescription for her too if she needs it.

We weighed the kids at the doctor’s office today. Max is approaching the 40-pound mark which means yet another carseat transformation; he’s too heavy for the LATCH anchors that make carseat installation super easy, so now we’re struggling to install the carseat using the shoulder-lap belt. After he grows out of this carseat configuration (65lbs/49in), he will move to a booster seat and use the car’s regular seatbelt (vs. the carseat’s 5-point harness). At 40 pounds he also exceeds the weigh limit for our regular stroller, but we haven’t really been using it much lately. Both kids prefer to walk and Max can unbuckle himself to climb out and/or unlock the brake and push himself around wheelchair-style. Slowly but slowly we are moving away from mounds of baby equipment.

Lola weighed in at 32-1/2 pounds – not only has she broken the 30-pound mark for the first time (yay!) but it’s crazy to think that she weighed 10 pounds less a year ago when she lost so much weight in the hospital. She’s 50% bigger than she was a year ago – wow!

Weight
Max 39-1/2 pounds
Lola 32/1/2 pounds


Pedaler

by Kayte

This past weekend while we were in La Quinta Lola pedaled her bike for the first time ever! Something finally just clicked and there’s no stopping her now. Here she was on our walk today:

And later today at the park today she actually role played with some other kids – baking sand cakes in the bakery – which she doesn’t usually do. She and Maxie have started pretend-playing together a lot more at home lately, but at the park and on play dates she sticks with the grown ups and avoids other kids. It was magical to watch her interacting with these other kids tens of feet away from me!

AND just last week I watched Lola walk down two consecutive steps without a hand or railing. She’s been bravely stepping off the last step without assistance for a few months, but that’s the first time I’ve see her walk consecutive steps before. Looks like 2017 is shaping up to be a good year.


Face Forward

by Kayte

Lola’s official weigh-in at 40 inches yesterday put her over the limit for her rear-facing carseat, so we turned her around to face forward. I must admit it’s pretty nice to be able to look back and see her face, and there’s a lot more room in the backseat – but only on the condition that it’s safe! She seems pretty happy seeing all the new sights.

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Secret Life of Pets

by Kayte

The kids had the day off school today (l’shana tova!) so we got the family together for Max & Lola’s first-ever movie in a theater. Cousin Booker is a seasoned movie-goer, but I had been holding off with Max & Lola because I wasn’t sure how well they would sit through a whole movie (hence the Nana-reinforcement). Turns out they did great and we all had a really fun time watching The Secret Life of Pets and chowing popcorn. I hadn’t been in a movie theater myself for about 4-1/2 years, so it was nice to get out and do something different.

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Poopy Trained

by Kayte

A full year after his sister, I am officially declaring Max potty trained! After two weeks of using The Poop Basket with no accidents, we exchanged daily rewards for the ultimate prize: a battery-operated, motorized, Gordon the Tank Engine to add to our railway set.

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As with Lola, we’ve still been putting in Max in diapers overnight (because sleep still trumps undies), but he has been waking up dry most mornings. One morning I even heard him get up before the clock was on, go to the bathroom all by himself, and then go back to bed. Things are slowly but surely getting easier.


Run Lola Run

by Kayte

This is a new milestone for Lola – running! Up until recently she would speed-walk when she wanted to move quickly, but now she’s actually getting both feet up off the ground. And having fun doing it.


First Day of PALs

by Kayte

Max and Lola started their second year of preschool today. They’re in a new program called PALs which is 4-1/2 hours per day, 5 days a week. Last year’s program was 2-1/2 hours, 4 days per week so it’s a big change for us. It’s a nice intermediate step to prepare them for kindergarten’s longer days next year (not to mention that this is the longest amount of time I have been by myself in four years – w0w).

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The other big change this year is that we (parents & teachers) decided to put Max & Lola in different classrooms to foster independence and individual growth. We chose to move Lola to a new class in the hopes of her having some female classmates, and we were happy to meet two new little girls the first day. Max stayed behind in the same class as last year with all his buddies which is a big old boys’ club. Lola gave me an extra-long hug when we dropped her off at class today, and then bravely went to play with all her new teachers and friends.

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Direct Hit

by Kayte

Max pooped in the potty! Apparently all it takes is proper motivation: dad bought him a bag of Jelly Belly beans as a reward. He did it all by himself too. I was cooking breakfast in the kitchen when all of a sudden I heard a little voice from the bathroom: “Mommy I pooped!” Let’s hope this is the start of a new chapter in our bathroom book.

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Forward-Facing

by Kayte

At 40 inches Max officially hit the limit of his rear-facing car seat. He was absolutely thrilled at being able to sit forward “like Cousin Booker.”

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We’ve kept both kids extended rear-facing for as long as possible due to numerous studies that show rear-facing is much safer. Especially for Lola who is small not only in weight, but whose skeletal structure is disproportionately small and whose head has been disproportionately large. She will probably outgrow her current seat by the fall, or maybe I’ll just buy her a new car seat that works until 45 inches…


Potty Learning

by Kayte

Max has been doing great with the potty this week! He’s been in underpants since Thursday with only a couple pee pee accidents. He hasn’t quite caught on with #2 yet, but I’m hoping that will soon follow. The key to our success has been M&Ms. We were having such a hard time even getting Max ON the potty (“No it’s okay, I can go in my diaper.”) but with a little chocolate incentive he was more than willing to play ball. The first couple days he (and Lola, to be fair) peed 15+ times per day, squeezing out drops just to get an M&M. Surprisingly that phased out by day three and they both went to a more normal 4-5 pees a day. Max is still wearing diapers at night, but they’ve been less wet in the morning, and I figure we can work on that later. In the meantime I’ve been doing less laundry which is great.

Today Max independently went into the bathroom, pulled down his pants, peed in the potty, then got himself his own reward!

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My Pants Falling Down

by Kayte

This past week Lola has absolutely refused to wear a diaper at bedtime so we finally took the plunge and let her go diaper-free overnight. It’s been a huge success!

The only problem is that those bulky cloth diapers were apparently the only thing keeping Lola’s pants up. Now that she’s au natural they immediately fall down around her ankles after a couple steps. After many cries of “my pants falling down!” I finally pulled out my sewing machine and altered all of her PJ bottoms. I took out about four inches from each 2T-sized pair – that is one tiny waist!


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Mission accomplished!


First Day of Preschool

by Kayte

The kids did great. I sobbed. Guess they are more ready than I am.

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Potty Trained

by Kayte

I am officially declaring Lola potty trained! About a month ago she started fighting diaper changes and asking to go on the potty instead. After a few days of this I finally just switched her to underpants. Lola had a few accidents along the way (of course), but she caught on quickly. She’s now been accident-free for 2-1/2 weeks (#1 and #2!) and tells us when she needs to go. She still needs help getting her pants up and down so it’s not totally hands-free yet, but at least I’m washing diapers half as often. I’ve also still been putting her in a diaper overnight (a good night’s sleep takes priority over potty training any day) but she wakes up dry every morning and holds it until we get to the pot.

Max has been pretty disinterested throughout the whole process, and when given a choice (diaper or underpants?) he tells us “I like my diaper.” He’s starting to fight diaper changes too, though, so maybe he’s not too far behind.


Monkey Girl Too

by Kayte

Lola has now adopted Max’s unnerving style of climbing into the high chair over top of the tray. I’m outwardly disapproving, but secretly impressed.

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Drip Drop

by Kayte

After a couple days of dribbles, Max finally caught up to his sister (quantity-wise at least). I still wouldn’t say we’re potty training in earnest, but at least it’s a couple less diapers to change per day.

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Pee Pee in the Potty

by Kayte

We haven’t been doing much in the way of potty training lately. After reading a bit more on the subject, Max & Lola weren’t showing any of the readiness signs. And after watching a few friends go through the ordeal, I decided that diapers are really not that bad.

This past week Max has been telling us every time he pees or poos in his diaper, and walking around all funny until we change him, so I thought that might be our cue. He was sitting on the potty tonight when Lola asked to try too. She sat down, peed right away, and stood up all proud. I couldn’t believe it – our first direct hit! I figured it was just a fluke…until she did it again later in the evening. Everyone says girls catch on quicker.

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100 Walks

by Kayte

This weekend wasn’t too bad with Max in his new toddler bed. Max kept climbing out of bed and escaping his bedroom. We kept escorting him back to bed and telling him it was bedtime. Eventually he fell asleep. It wasn’t easy, but Brody and I were able to tag-team our efforts and collectively maintain our sanity.

Monday was a different story when Brody went to work. Max was seriously testing his limits and I was getting really frustrated. Nothing I did seem to work and sleep-deprived kids are no fun to be around. Not to mention naps are the only down time I have in a day; it’s my much-needed time to recharge too. So I was getting a little panicky.

A quick search online confirmed that I was on the right track, and gave me comfort that I was not alone! One mom dubbed it the “100 Walks” method in which you calmly lead the child back to bed with a simple phrase (“Time for bed.”) as many times as it takes. No reaction, no attention, just business.

So I hunkered down, put all thoughts of [other] productivity out of my mind, and focused on the task at hand. I decided to let Max explore his room freely as long as he wasn’t bugging Lola, but the trigger point for intervention was when he opened the bedroom door (or if I saw him doing something dangerous on the baby monitor).

This is what sleep training a toddler looks like.

Day 1
It took a full 2 hours and the entire 100 walks before Max finally was frustrated/exhausted enough to fall asleep. Poor Lola was lying in her crib the entire time just watching the show. When Max wasn’t trying to escape, he was busy emptying every drawer and shelf in the room.

Day 2
It took about 1 hour before Max finally went to sleep. He didn’t open the bedroom door as much, but he thoroughly explored the changing table drawers and practiced his gymnastics moves. Hey, it’s progress.

Day 3
After reading a few books, Max voluntarily climbed back into his bed and took a 3+ hour nap. Success!

I guess no one tells you that once you have a baby sleep trained that you get to do it all over again in another year when they’re toddlers!