Monday, September 28, 2009

Wedding Pictures!


If I don't move, maybe I won't get my dress dirty!

Remember to smile!

We're ready!


Wait! Wait! One at a time!

Don't forget to toss the flower petals!


A beautiful day, a lovely ceremony, one good looking wedding party!


So now what?

Still smiling!

Trying to get a good photo for the Xmas card...

The basket is can also be a hat!


Maddie joins the band

Isabel dances the night away

Time to go...two exhausted but happy girls

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

What's New?

It's been awhile since I've done one of my "what my girls know and can do" posts, so I figured it was time. I hope no one thinks that I'm being a braggart. That is not my intention at all. This is merely my way of tracking the girls' progress for myself (I have not been such a good journal keeper except when we were in China and I wrote every day) and letting far away family and friends in on recent developments.

In two short months, Maddie's language has exploded. I guess it's true what they say about this age level and language acquisition. She speaks in three and four and sometimes even five word sentences much of the time and her vocabulary has, I think, grown very rapidly. Here's one example of her ability to communicate in English. On Sunday, Maddie and Ibby were given balloons by Grandma Sandy, and ever since, they've been dragging them all over the house. On Tuesday morning, I was in our bedroom putting clean sheets on the bed when Maddie came running in holding the weight for her balloon with the balloon no longer attached. "Mama! Mama!" she said. "Uh oh. Balloon! Broke it! Fan!" Sure enough, when I went into the family room, there was the balloon stuck to the ceiling right above the whirring ceiling fan. She is particulary adept at learning rhymes and songs. I bet she knows at least 15 or more songs by heart, and she enjoys singing them over and over. One day, Richard and I overheard her singing about a firetruck. We weren't familiar with the song, but when I asked about it at school, the teachers told me that they had indeed been singing a song about a firetruck. She knows her ABCs and can count to ten. Oh, and she has completely memorized Good Night, Moon.

As you might recall, when Maddie first arrived home, she was asking for food all the time. Thankfully, the food obsession has passed. She eats three squares and two snacks each day and is content with the knowledge that food is readily available and that she will not go hungry. She is not much of a breakfast eater, so we struggle a bit to get enough food in her to last until morning snack. And sometimes she eats so quickly that she will gag herself, so we're working on that, too, but overall, food consumption is going very well. I haven't found a thing she doesn't like except yogurt.

Physically, she's really mastered her walker in the long hallways at school. Instead of one movement forward followed by a long pause, she can now take several consecutive steps/hops forward to propell herself to her destination. She loves to dance and twirl, and I cannot wait until we can enroll her in a dance class.

Intially, Maddie had a great deal of trouble with puzzles, matching, and other visual scanning tasks/games. I'm quite sure she just didn't have much experience and that's why she found these activities difficult. With exposure and practice, however, she now handles most puzzles with ease though Ibby can still outdo her on most of them in speed and accuracy.

Sleeping has never been an issue (thank goodness), and Maddie continues to be a good sleeper...eleven hours per night with a two hour afternoon nap.

As far as attachment goes, I think she's really turned a corner in the past couple of weeks. Though she has always been affectionate with us, her actions and words have shown us that there is a growing love in her heart for her family. She adores Isabel (the feeling is mutual), and it is the cutest thing in the world to see the two of them hug and kiss on their own initiative. It is clear that she knows who Mommy and Daddy are and though she is a very social girl, she is not at all indiscriminately affectionate with other adults, even those she sees regularly. She knows who's who. This is never more evident than when I go to school to pick the girls up, and when I enter the room, Maddie's face lights up, she hollers, "Mama!" and comes running to give me a hug. A highlight of my day, for sure.

Maddie is a kind, generous, funny, and loving child. She pets and hugs and kisses the cats whenever she gets the chance. She is a remarkable mommy to her baby doll, and she often looks out for her little sister, often bringing her a toy or a book whenever she goes to get one for herself. She loves to wear hats and sunglasses. She is a girly girl who loves to carry a purse and likes clothes and shoes, even remarking "cuuuuuuute" when she especially likes something any one of us is wearing.

In short, we think she is quite amazing and could not imagine our lives without her.

Isabel continues to be the happiest person I have ever known. She is smiling when she wakes up, and she's still smiling when she goes to bed at night. Her language skills, too, have exploded due in large part, we think, to Maddie's influence (though initially we thought the opposite would be the case). She knows her ABCs but sometimes needs a little prompting when reciting them. She can also identify a majority of written letters which I find quite astounding. I will hold up one of her magnetic letters or write one on her magna doodle and by gum, she can tell me what most of them are. I do not know how this happened! How did she learn that? Ibby can also count to ten although she often likes to start at four and has to be reminded to begin with 1, 2, 3. She also loves to sing. One of the best moments of my day is when the three of us are in the car singing along to the CD that's playing. I am amazed that they not only know the words, but they also get the rhythm and the tune right. Ibby still loves the Signing Time dvds (Maddie enjoys them, too) and though she doesn't use signs to communicate, she knows a great number of them. I dare say she knows all the signs on the first three Baby Signing Time dvds and the first six regular Signing Times. Sometimes she'll sit at the table and just go through a whole slew of them.

Isabel loves to run, and she's pretty fast considering she's got those short little legs. She, too, is a girly girl who loves to play with her baby, pretend cook, and pretend shop. She will often put her purse over her arm, wave, say "Bye bye," and when I ask her where she's going, she will say, "Target." We don't go there a lot though. Oh, no. Not us. No way. She also loves to talk on the phone whether it be her play phone, her hand, a tv remote, or the real phone. When I ask her who she's talking to, it is most often Aunt Pat though sometimes she's conversing with Uncle Bob, Jake, or Grandma. Even though she loves girly activities, she certainly doesn't mind getting dirty, and she loves to skip and jump and climb. Every Tuesday and Thursday, she comes home from school just covered in whatever they happened to be working with that day...markers, paint, etc. And the other day at the playground, I was surprised to see her scale a climbing wall without hesitation or a single stumble.

We are happy to report she's doing really well with potty training. It's been a long while since I've had to change a poopy diaper, and she pees on the potty at least 50% of the time though she only does it when we put her there. She isn't yet telling US that she has to pee.

She has a good sense of humor. Lately, she's been cracking us up by pretending to be a monster. She spreads her legs and crouches over and does this funny monster walk while she claws at the air and makes monster sounds. Speaking of peeing, watching her be a monster nearly makes me.

Ibby is a happy, sweet, affectionate girl who loves to read and cuddle and who adores her big sister. She loves to play outside. Though she can be a bit grabby when it comes to toys, she is learning to share and take turns.

In truth, we cannot remember what our lives were like before this wonderful girl entered in and stole our hearts.

This weekend will be an exciting time for both girls as they are going to be flower girls in my niece Erin's wedding. They love their dresses and look so pretty in them. I cannot wait to get some good pictures of them (Christmas card in the works), and even more, I cannot wait to see how they'll do walking down the aisle, tossing flower petals. I've always said, anyone who has children in their wedding party has to be prepared to expect the unexpected. How bad can it be, right?

Tuesday, September 15, 2009


Scene: Two young girls seated on a Dora the Explorer couch inside a Hello Kitty tent, baby dolls on their laps.


Isabel: What's that? (pointing to Hello Kitty)
Maddie: A cat.
Isabel: You're right! (excited)
Maddie: Meow, meow, meow, meow, meow!
Isabel: [Unintelligible]
Maddie: Okay!

Monday, September 14, 2009

Silly Sunday

We had nothing extra special planned this past Sunday, but sometimes, that's a good thing since you have to make your own fun.

We visited a Halloween store that opens up in our town once a year, you guessed it, at Halloween time to see if we could find costumes. No luck there, but we did buy two of those dealy-bobs that you wear on your head that either look like bug antennae or alien thingies. Maddie and Ibby got the biggest kick out of them. Maddie put hers on in the store, wore it all the way home, and has pretty much had it on ever since except for naps and bath time.

Then, just before bath time, I wanted to see if Ibby's hair was long enough to make one ponytail yet. It is, and she looked very pretty as you can see. What one gets the other wants, so I had to do some hairstyling for Maddie, too. Her hair is not long enough to make complete piggy tails, but we can still do a couple of mini ones on the sides of her head. I hadn't thought to do this, but it turned out super cute. And Maddie likes her piggies almost as much as she likes her bug antennae. She even requested piggies when I was doing her hair this morning.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Surgery Postponed

Due to a conflict, Maddie's surgery had to be rescheduled. Instead of October 8, she will now have the procedure done on October 22. That's two more weeks for Mom to fret, but a few more weeks for her to enjoy school before we'll have to keep her home for a bit.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

First Day of School

Here are my girls, on their very first first day of school. Maddie has her arms in the air because when we talk about going to school, we always cheer, "Hooray!"

This school year, Madeleine and Isabel are enrolled at St. David's Center for Child and Family Development. St. David’s began as a small community nursery school in the basement of St. David’s Episcopal Church 45 years ago. No longer affiliated with the church, St. David's has grown into one of the leading providers of preschool education in our area. Just five minutes from our house, St. David's has an excellent reputation, and we couldn't have been more pleased when the girls were accepted for admission. Besides the academic preparation the girls will receive for entry into kindergarten in a couple of years, St. David's also has an excellent physical therapy department for children with physical disabilities. This is certainly a plus for our Miss Maddie who will be facing some physical challenges over the next several months. The girls will be going to school on Tuesday and Thursday mornings from 8:45 to 11:45.

We attended an Open House last Friday, so the girls had already met their teachers and seen their classroom. As a result, when we arrived at room 102 this morning (yes, both girls will be in the same class all year long), they were comfortable in their surroundings, happy to see their teachers, and excited to get busy with all the cool toys. Ibby whined for about ten seconds when I said I was leaving, but when one of the teachers distracted her with the sensory table, it was like, "Mom who?"

So you're probably wondering what I did with my three kid-free hours. Well, I wondered what my girls were doing. I kept thinking how weird it was to drive around in my car without any passengers. I spent an hour and forty-five minutes at the Social Security Administration office applying for Maddie's social security card. I read a magazine while I waited. Actually, two. And they were about a year out of date, but I didn't care. And then I ran two other quick errands which would not have been so quick with two kids in tow.

When I got to the school to pick them up, they were having circle time and singing a goodbye song. A few parents snuck in the back of the room to get a look at the kids and snap a few pictures. As soon as Maddie saw me, she yelled out, "Mama!" That made me feel good, I can tell you. The teachers reported that both girls did very well with no crying or fussing. Maddie has already gotten a lot quicker on her walker, which she only uses to transition from the classroom to other parts of the building when necessary. They both had crumbs all over their faces from whatever they had for a snack. Isabel had a good deal of marker all over her shirt, and they were both pretty worn out, but when I asked Isabel, for the first time of many I am sure, how school was, she said, "Fun!"

Upon arriving, Maddie gets busy with the Play-Doh

Isabel likes the cotton balls at the Sensory Table

Maddie is wondering why that little boy in her class is crying so hard

Circle time at the end of class...Maddie sees Mama

Isabel has to be right in front, so she can see the pictures

Bye bye, Teacher Ann...see you Thursday

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Already Walking...

...with some assistance, of course. Today, the physical therapist with our local school district dropped off a walker for Maddie. She took to it right away, declaring it, "Fun!" Isabel likes it too, and it's a riot when BOTH of them try to use it simultaneously.

Maddie will not use the walker all the time. In fact, around the house, it's more of a detriment because she can move far faster without it. We plan to have her use it at school (which starts next week) especially when she is moving from the classroom to other areas in the building. We are happy to have her getting used to it now because after surgery, she will need to stay off of her leg for awhile, and by that time, she should be a pro with it.

My Little Artists

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

On Her Own Two Feet

Well, one of those feet will be attached to a prosthesis, but the prognosis is that Maddie will be walking upright by early November...just in time for her third birthday on November 22.

We had our first visit at Shriners Hospital in Minneapolis yesterday. Madeleine has a genetic condition known as Longitudinal or Tibial Deficiency. It's fairly uncommon, but the doctors at Shriners have treated somewhere between 30 and 40 children with this condition. Maddie has Stage II which means that she has a fibula and a very small tibia and a functional knee joint. This is very good news and puts her in a good position for treatment.

Maddie will require two surgeries. The first, during which her right foot will be ablated (or amputated), is scheduled for October 8. She will spend one night in the hospital as long as there are no complications, of course. After two weeks, she will be fitted for a prosthesis. After four weeks, she should be healed well enough to use the prosthesis regularly, and for the first time in her short life, she will be walking upright on two more pounding on those poor little knees. The second surgery will take place when Maddie is four or so. At that time, her fibula, which is currently slanted at an odd angle, will be centered under her knee and attached to the very small tibia. The year and a half between surgeries will allow that tibia to grow a bit larger making for a more stable attachment between the two bones. The fibula will continue to grow as Maddie grows, and having even a bit of bone under the knee will help with stability and ease use of the prosthesis.

We spent six hours at the hospital with two toddlers who truly couldn't have been better behaved. Of course, it helps that Shriners is geared toward kids, so the many toys and play areas really helped ward off any potential boredom. Maddie had numerous x-rays taken of her leg and even had to endure an EKG when a heart murmur was detected. No worries though. Apparently, and I did not know this previously, 80% of children have what is called an "innocent" heart murmur which simply disappears over time. With surgery and anesthesia in her near future, Maddie's heart had to be declared healthy, and the chest x-rays and EKG determined that it is.

The staff at Shriners was so warm and welcoming, and we couldn't be more excited that Maddie's surgeon is one of the best pediatric orthopedic specialists in the country.

Richard and I were awed and inspired by the many children and teens we saw throughout the day who are dealing with any number of orthopedic issues. We even met one teenage boy with the very same condition as Maddie's. He had surgery when he was very young, and now, if you didn't know it, you would never be able to tell he has an artificial leg.

I do not look forward to the actual surgery. No mother wants to see her child in pain, but I am trying to keep my sights set on the "after." Richard and I are thrilled and grateful that Maddie has this opportunity, and we cannot wait until the day when she will be able to walk. With Maddie, we are quite sure dance lessons won't be far behind. She's gotten quite good at twirling already, and there's no telling what she'll be able to do once she can actually get up on two feet.