Thursday, June 26, 2014

Em on the Move

Since I haven't blogged regularly in a million years, I haven't shared anything about Em's gross motor issues. I'm putting this here because I know others who are dealing with similar issues, and I don't have to keep typing it over and over if it's all in one place :)

The common refrain on parenting blogs and mommy message boards is "Don't compare kids." For the most part, I do ok with not comparing my kids to other in the same age range. Unfortunately, I'm not so good about not comparing them to each other.

Charlie wasn't an early crawler, but he started army crawling and then "real" crawling right before 8 months, which is pretty typical (thank you, blog, for keeping adequate records of my kid and his accomplishments). Em, on the other hand, wasn't interested. She was a bump on a log for the longest time, until she figured out how to roll. Once she mastered that, somewhere around 8 months, she started rolling from one end of the room to the other in order to get her hands on things. I thought that crawling had to be the next logical step, and anxiously awaited her to discover her newfound freedom. 9 month milestone came and went, and it didn't happen. We talked it over with her pediatrician at her 9-month check-up, and based on her lack of crawling combined with her late rolling, we left with a referral to an Early Intervention specialist.

The team of therapists came over to evaluate Em a few weeks later. By that time, she had progressed to dragging herself around using her arms. They put her through her paces, testing all areas of gross and fine motor skills, verbal skills, social skills - or as much as you can for a 9 monther, anyway. In the end, they decided that her gross motor skills were delayed, and we started a weekly PT regimen.

After her first appointment, they determined that she still had the lean-back reflex (the technical term is escaping me right now) that usually disappears around 4 months. The general issue was that she didn't have a good sense of where she was in the world, spatially. When she leaned forward, or shifted her weight to the front of her body, she felt like she was falling over and immediately shifted back. So she wasn't crawling properly because when she shifted her weight to her arms (like in a proper plank position) her head fell forward and she tipped over. When we stood her up, she leaned back, and when we tried to hold her in the proper standing position she immediately went onto her toes, which is something we had noticed a while back. They said it's a problem when babies don't get enough tummy time, and that jumperoos and exersaucers make the problem worse, because it encourages them to lean back. So yay for that.

We did make some fast progress, working on baby planks and baby cobra holds, and Em was crawling like a champ within a few weeks. Many of the exercises that we were told to do are outlined in great detail in this slide show that I found on the internet. Isn't technology great?

Since the big leap forward with crawling, progress has been slow. The next big step was to get her up in a "high kneeling position," which she has now mastered. We've since moved on to the big things, getting her upright and standing so that she can eventually learn to walk. Her core muscles are still weak and tight, so she does her exercises on a yoga ball. I have a love/hate relationship with the PT - I know it's really good for her, but she hates it. Haaaaaaaaaaaaaaates it. There's lots of crying because she works so hard during the sessions. The last session was especially difficult, and I came out of it feeling really crappy about the whole situation. But then every once in a while she'll surprise us, like when we turned around a few nights ago to see her standing up at her play table! I think she was just as surprised as we were.

Yesterday, she climbed the stairs. Charlie had to put his snack down (bunny grahams) to do something, and he thought it would be safe three stairs up. Em kept looking and looking at them, and finally, she got up on her knees and scaled the steps. The look on her face when she made it to the first step was priceless! She looked up at us like "did you SEE that?? Look where I am!!" Biggest smile, ever. She was so proud of herself. Food is a powerful motivator. Em is my homegirl.

We have PT again, today, and I'm looking forward to more small steps toward catching up with those other daycare babies who are currently (literally) running circles around her :)

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Let's Get This Party Started

Once upon a time, I decided that I wanted to run a marathon before I turned 30. And so I did. And it was good. And I liked that marathon, and knew that I could do better than 4:13, and so I ran another one. And it was better. But the Boston Marathon qualifying standard of 3:35 still seemed like a pipe dream, something that was reserved for runners far more experienced, more dedicated, more *real* than I was. Because I wasn't *really* a runner. I just pretended to be one, because the medals are cool.

But as time and miles ticked by, I started to feel like a *real* runner, and then, this spring, Boston started to feel within reach. I didn't go for it at the Xenia Marathon, and I finished in 3:39. Four minutes off from BQ, but 6 minutes better than my original spring marathon goal. I could have pushed harder and I may have made it, but I had my sights set on the New Jersey Marathon. Unfortunately, that one turned out to be a complete disaster - but it had to happen sometime. No guts, no glory!

This week begins my first serious attempt to get to Boston. I'm using the plan outlined in the FIRST program, the BQ-version of the marathon training program that I've used to take 34 minutes off since I ran my first 26.2. They say it best - "The Road to Boston is Steeper."

After I blew it in my hometown, I asked the pace group if I could take home the 3:35 flag. It will hang in my basement where I can see it from the treadmill, a reminder of what I'm aiming for to keep my legs moving when those speed intervals and long tempo runs get in my head and I want to quit. Because that feeling happens a lot. I'm setting my sights on 3:30, to give some extra breathing room. This is the first really serious goal that I've set for myself, other than just finishing the damn thing to begin with. I may fall flat on my face and short of my goal, but at least I can say that I tried. There's always next year :)

Thursday, May 22, 2014


It feels like only yesterday we fit so perfectly in the same giant comfy chair that I rocked big brother in, five-years-in-the-blink-of-an-eye earlier - her swaddled tightly, just fitting into the space of my lap, head near breast, legs tucked gently under my arm. Today she's a mess of limbs, flailing about and tugging me in unnatural directions, clawing at my neck with her talon-like fingerails, craning her neck up and around so as not to miss a single beat.

Milk calms the savage beast, and she quiets, stills, begins to accept the fact that night has come, bedtime is upon us, and we must separate for a few hours. She drinks lazily, knowing that slow sips will delay the inevitable. Even then, I see her eyes grow heavy and flutter closed. I cuddle her close and breathe deeply.

The sweet, sweet smell of newborn freshness has been replaced with faintly sour milk and the lingering smell of enchiladas from dinner a few hours earlier, the onions and garlic overpowering the post-dinner scrubdown efforts before diaper and pajamas.

I try to take in the feeling of her weight on my chest - the warmness, the sound of soft breathing as she falls deeper into sleep, head nestled under my chin, hand on my neck. I know that this can't last forever, and that these moments are fleeting, so I soak them in, putting life outside the door on hold, trying to memorize every bit of baby that she still is, because tomorrow is another day, and she'll be older, then.

Thursday, May 1, 2014

The Kiddos

So when I last left you, I had a 3 month old and a newly 5 year old. I had just turned 32. My last blog was actually on my birthday. The kids looked like this:

And here they are, 8 months (and four teeth lost and two teeth gained) later. Charlie is a month away from being a first grader, and Em is a few short weeks away from the big First Birthday. They're growing and learning and being wonderful little people.

I was working for a tiny non-profit that was jointly owned by a big, national organization and a small local one. In January, the big organization bought their half from the smaller one, and life at work changed. It has mostly changed for the better, in terms of opportunities for growth and interesting projects, but we're still working through the logistics and the organizational growing pains. Still staying in Cincinnati. For now.

I was getting back into running, and hoping to run a 1:45 half marathon in the Cincy Half. I didn't actually run that race - Em wasn't a good sleeper, I was always tired, kind of cranky, and couldn't get my shit together and muster up the discipline to follow a training plan. I've since found that motivation, and ran a 1:43 half and a 3:39 full (and proceeded to bomb the NJ Marathon this past Sunday, but that's another post).

I've been traveling all over - Em and I went to a conference in Boston. She was a hit with the crowd and was very well-behaved through both of my presentations. We were even Twitter famous :)

We took a last minute trip to visit family in Seattle, spent thanksgiving in New Jersey, stayed home for Christmas, I took a quick trip to DC, went to NJ last week, and I'm currently in Kansas City. It's flat here. The polar vortex pushed us to our inside-the-house entertainment limits.

And that's about it in a nutshell. The short version, at least.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Well Hello There

Wow, it's been a long time. I don't really have a good excuse for not being here. I suppose it's partly that I didn't had any brilliant blog ideas. Partly that I didn't have any TIME - two kids has doubled my work, and work is crazy, and nursing/pumping/bottle washing made/makes me crazy. And then so much time went by that it was just easier to not come back at all, rather than to come sheepishly crawling back. But still, here I am. And I wish that I had stayed around, because, now that I think about it, I have so much to say - on the topics of nursing babies and raising a girl instead of a boy and trying to balance the attention I spend on two children and the awesomeness of watching Charlie step so easily into the "protective big brother" role. And how my little group was purchased in January by a bigger group and how it totally threw my work life into upheaval and how I should just be thankful that I still have a job but I'm still sad at the loss of my vacation time and other monetary benefits. And how I've managed to keep up with my running program (hey, I ran a 1:43 half marathon in March and a 3:39 marathon in April, and I'm gunning for a BQ this fall!) and I've tried a lot of new beers (well over 200 different kinds) and made some fantastic new recipes, and took a few good trips out of town both with and without the family, and how funny it is that I'm making the same pea pancakes for Em that I did for Charlie. And all this time I felt like I had nothing to say.


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