Thursday, December 31, 2009

Theo Says Otherwise!

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Like, I mean, he uses the word "otherwise." He's doing so well! His vocabulary is growing, he's putting together better sentences, and he's telling stories.

Theo is hilarious watching me play Mario on the Wii. He'll say "get the star so nobody can hurt you!" and he calls the flying turtles butterfly turtles.

This was just a quick note...back to work...Happy New Year!

Monday, December 21, 2009

Mamacitas Holiday Party

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Yesterday, my friend and fellow Sunnymom Sari had a holiday party. My mom group, the one in my neighborhood that's been meeting since we had infants, all came. It's very rare that we all get together these days, especially with our husbands there too, so it was real treat. It was pretty emotional for us moms to watch all our toddlers running around, squabbling, grabbing toys, kissing and hugging...the girls had enough hair for pigtails. Last year they didn't walk and most had no hair. Next year, they'll be having real conversations.

I'm very, very lucky to have found this group of people. I not only get to watch Melody grow, but I get to watch a whole community of kids grow, kids who will be Melody's friends.



Click here to see photo album from party!

Oh...and though there were no kids Theo's age, he was such a good boy! Probably because he's still perfectly content to play with baby toys. :)

Melody's First Snow!

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Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Gluten's Back, and So Is Mama's Sanity

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There's a very good reason I haven't described the visit to the DAN! doctor. We didn't go. The follow-up visit, which is just a talk with the doctor WITHOUT the child present, would have been $750. So that's $1,750 plus the cost of additional allergy testing, prescriptions, etc. We called off the visit so that I could look into getting some help from my job next year, if this kind of medical visit qualifies for the Flexible Spending Account. Autism treatments nearly never get financial support from companies because it's all considered experimental.

We decided the day before Thanksgiving that we were going to take Theo off the gluten-free/ casein-free/ soy-free/corn-free/limited-sugar/no-preservatives/no-artificial-colors diet. That was fun to type!

What followed was--and I suppose this is a dramatization, but not by much--getting our lives back. We spent two nights in New Jersey with Joe's family. Not only would I have had to prepare Theo a special meal, but all the foods his cousins, 3 boys, ate would have been off limits. When Theo is there it is common for the boys to all munch on a bag of cereal, pretzels, and other snacks. Trying to keep Theo from those food would have majorly stressed me out and made him feel left out. I know, because that's what our previous visit was like.

How wonderful it was for Theo to sit and eat the same turkey, the same creamy mashed potatoes, the same apple pie as everyone else!

And guess what--on Monday, Ms. Fredericks said Theo was particularly well-behaved that day. This was before she knew we took him off the diet. The rest of the week he continued to behave nicely. Today, he came home very excited that he won a prize for good behavior! This could all be a coincidence, but at the very least, the opposite was supposed to happen when we put gluten and dairy back into his body, so...

Recently, I had a mini revelation when telling Aunt Pia about all this. One of the major characteristics of autism is the lack of social skills. And what was I doing by making him eat different food at a birthday party? At school, on pizza Fridays? I was exacerbating his already-poor social abilities. Seems counter-productive to me.

Please don't think I'm bashing the diet. I think it's wonderful--a miracle, in fact--that so many children have recovered from autism because of it. It didn't happen for my kid, but now I can feel good knowing we tried it for five months. And unless it had been a miracle cure, it would not have been worth it to further hinder Theo's chances at normalcy in social settings. And let's face it, his mama's a foodie. My favorite sous-chef can now learn the art and importance of butter and flour to real cooking. :)

The best part is, my guilt is mostly gone and I'm at peace with this decision. That's something I didn't think would happen. There are still natural vitamins and supplements to explore. We'll see what the new year brings us. For now, time to take a break from all this Mama Warrior stuff and relax and enjoy my sweet boy. Right now he's inside eating the empanadas he helped make--think I'll go join him.

Child Magic Enough For the Two of Them

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Baby hates Santa, but as you can see, Theo brings enough child magic for the two of them. This is the first year he's really excited about who Santa is and what he does, and he was just enthralled when standing in front of the big guy. This was a good Santa--he talked to Theo about leaving carrots for Rudolph. The look on Theo's face was...to put it eloquently...whoaaaaa.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

All He Wants For Christmas Is His One Front Tooth!

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Wahoo! After weeks of pulling and prodding, the tooth finally came out when Theo ate a hard-boiled egg. He talked about the Tooth Fairy all day!

The next morning, the first thing he did was reach under his pillow to retrieve his lollipop. I let him eat it for breakfast, and the result was a very devastated, very angry, FURIOUS toddler. Theo tried to calmly explain to his sister that the Tooth Fairy brought HIM the lollipop, but she wasn't having it. Finally we convinced her to have some Cheerios instead.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

18 Months--A Meaningful Milestone

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Last night, Melody started to cry at 4AM. Since she usually sleeps through the night, I should have wanted to cry with her. But this one night, it was different. It was her big 18-month birthday. And so the tears did come, but they were tears of reflection and happiness. As I lay in bed nursing my toddler, I thought of Theo's 18-month birthday.

"At 18 months, your toddler should say 50 words," we read. Uh-oh. He didn't say any. That was the beginning of a rough journey...but fast forward to today. Melody knows 50 words, easy. But why? Because Theo has made it his mission to teach her to talk. Who'd have ever thought Theo would be someone's speech coach?

So, with these thoughts in my weary head at 4AM, a smile on my face was frozen in time.

I can't believe my gorgeous girl is a year and a half. The first word she says when she wakes up is E-O (Theo). When she wants to go out, she brings me my shoes and tries to shove them on my feet while she says "Deedeedoh (here you go)."

Melody, every day with you is an adventure. Baby girl I always dreamed of, I love you.


It took me a while to get my Christmas spirit this year, but lookin' at this, you'll see how it came to me in a big way.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Melody's First Ponytail

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She's also wearing her Geneseo University dress. :)

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Back on Dairy, So We Don't Get Scolded

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We've finally decided to go to a DAN! (Defeat Autism Now!) doctor. Here's an article explaining what a DAN! doctor is;
http://autism.about.com/od/alternativetreatmens/f/dandoc.htm

These are the things we can expect to discuss in our 2-hour appointment:
-Nutritional supplements, including certain vitamins, minerals, amino acids, and essential fatty acids
-Special diets totally free of gluten (from wheat, barley, rye, and possibly oats) and free of dairy (milk, ice cream, yogurt, etc.)
-Testing for hidden food allergies, and avoidance of allergenic foods
-Treatment of intestinal bacterial/yeast overgrowth (with pro-biotics, supplements and other non-pharmaceutical medications)
-Detoxification of heavy metals through chelation (a potentially hazardous medical procedure)

What took us so long? The appointment costs 1,000 dollars. And that doesn't include the lab testing and the supplements we'll have to buy. Mom is helping us out (mom, you're an angel) and has asked only that we adhere to what the doc says--a fair request. We don't want to make the trip and spend the dough for nothing.

Our appointment is next Monday, the 30th. I'll keep you posted.
Here are two videos featuring Dr. Elice, the doctor we're going to. He is recommended by the Autism Research Institute and was personally recommended to me by my rescue angel, Judith. Rescue Angels are parents who have been through the drill and volunteer to counsel other parents. You find them through the Generation Rescue website.

Video 1: This resonated with me because we only heard PDD from doctors until Theo was 4.5. If they had just said "autism" in the first place I may have gotten additional services and started the diet sooner. I definitely would have gone to a DAN! doctor sooner--I hadn't even heard of one until this year.



Video 2: http://www.autism.com/danwebcast/video-list.asp?showsession=Science&conference=SanDiego
Scroll down, it's the last one on the page.

As for dairy, we want to go into this appointment telling the Dr. we've been on the diet, so even though we haven't seen a change in Theo after giving him milk, butter and cheese, we'll stick to the DAN! protocol for now--since we're paying so damn much for it!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Bye Bye Ballet...But Run, Theo and Daddy, Run!

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Sadly, "Theo Theo ballerino" is not in his future after all. We stuck it out as long as we could, but it was time to face reality that he was too silly and disruptive in class and it wasn't fair to the other girls. After observing the last class, I realized how out of his mind he really does get during ballet. At one point he randomly started shouting out the alphabet. It was very stimmy, and it's not good for him to do activities where that gets brought out in him. I cried at first, but I've come to peace with the decision. Sure, he loved it, but he loves everything. We'll find another way to channel his energy. And I'm determined to get him piano lessons to fulfill his need for creativity. And I really should do more art with him (eek, I stink with that!).

But, now, gloom aside...the story ends well. I asked Joe to take Theo running with him, and he was immediately excited. They went for their first run this morning. We told Theo they were going to go running and he kept asking "What's running?" to which we replied, "just running!" He wasn't getting that you can just go out and run, and that would have a name! It was pretty amusing.

He insisted on wearing his Batman hat. He asked Joe where it was, and Joe told him Batman took it. Theo said, "Daddy, Batman isn't in my house."

Off they ran in their sweats, a daddy and his boy. When Theo walked through the door upon his return, I was floored to see the look on his face. It was joy, it was disbelief, it was utter happiness encompassed in one big-ass grin. I said big-ass because my language was getting too flowery.

Joe said, "He loved it. When we were running, he told me 'this is so cool.' Babe, this is something I can do with him for life."

Urm, that's not a tear, it's dust....

Academically Pleasing

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Theo has continued to get 100 on every single spelling test, and a 90 on his second math test! He's incredibly enthusiastic about reading, wanting to read wherever we go--signs on the street, labels in stores--everything! He's looking for words within words, identifying sounds...he's doing a lovely job. His writing has come a long way, too.

I thought he had a breakthrough this weekend when we were writing a story for school. His first two pages were about "Where the Wild Things Are" and on the third page, I asked him "Then what happened?" He smiled, "I don't know, let's see what the pencil does." And he began to write:

Theo and Mommy Reina are going to the fair see Melody. (he needed help spelling only the word "fair." I was amazed! Sure, it had nothing to do with the first two pages of the story, and sure the letters were way too big and not within the lines, but who cares? Here he was with a thought in his head, and he got it on paper!

When he drew the picture to go with it, he narrated that he was drawing people upside down and people scared. Looking at it, you'd never know that's what he drew, but I love knowing he does everything for a reason. The other day his scribbles were "the star ceiling show" (we recently visited the planetarium).

We had parent-teacher conferences last night, and Theo's behavior is often getting in the way of his schoolwork. His work is much stronger at home, even though a large percentage of his learning comes from school. He has had the same pattern since preschool--observe and absorb at school, apply at home. First that applied to using words, now it applies to academics. I'm very encouraged knowing he gets it. A year ago my biggest concern was his speech, and now we converse every day. His speech therapist agreed he has a lot of potential, if they can just keep him from getting so distracted. He has to constantly be reminded to keep his hands to himself or keep his eyes on the teacher. They take him on walks or computer breaks to calm him down. Theo seems to really like school, for which I'm grateful. It was nice to walk out of a conference yesterday and NOT break into tears. Take it slow, take it slow. Little by little, this amazing boy is growing every day.

Gluten-Free, Dairy-Free, But Never Guilt-Free

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It's been about 4 1/2 months since starting Theo on a gluten-free dairy-free diet, also removing soy, corn syrup, preservatives and most other junk from his diet.

Sharon and school have complied, and most importantly, Theo has been great about it. He learned to ask if a food was gluten or dairy free before he ate it. I learned to cook and bake this way and he had no problems eating this way. I learned all about rice flours, bean flours, quinoa flours...butter and milk substitutes...in many ways I became a more healthful cook.

The diet has been known to have a huge impact on autistic kids, particularly ones with a leaky gut (a nice way of saying chronic diarreah). Luckily, Theo never had that issue. We did it to improve his behavior, speech, and focus.

Theo's vocabulary continued to increase, but his stimming didn't decrease. (Stimming is a word in the autism world for erratic, involuntary behaviors like spinning or random gibberish or yelling, etc). I can't attribute the improved speech and vocab to the diet, because he was improving before we started, and any infractions he's had (accidental consumption of wheat or dairy) have had no impact on his speech.

After months of spending a ton of money at health food stores, being unable to eat out or order in, and having to bring food Theo could eat wherever we went, we've decided it's not worth a diet that isn't working. Theo snuck cheese the other day and there was no change. I started giving him dairy again and he's the same kid. I'll wait a bit longer before reintroducing gluten, since I've read that gluten can take 6 months to leave the body and the gut can start healing. But frankly, most accounts of moms who have seen results have seen the results in a matter of days, and with children much younger than Theo.

There lies my guilt. I don't know if this diet would have worked if I started it when he was 2. That's something I'll have to live with. And maybe I didn't do the diet to the best of my ability. I still allowed gluten in the home, which could have contaminated his foods. I'm not the mama warrior some moms are. There, I said it.

This diet won't have been for nothing. Like I said, I've learned a healthier way of cooking for my family. I know how to cook for friends with celiac and am more aware of food allergies now when cooking for other kids. I've baked with Theo more than I ever have, since it was much cheaper to bake the stuff myself than pay $7 for a box of 12 cookies. I will continue to cook with awesome grains like quinoa and hide vegetables in sauces and pancake batters. But soon enough, we'll have our life back, and Theo won't be deprived of fitting in and eating the pizza and cupcakes his friends are eating, that Melody's eating.

When Theo is old enough, maybe he'll decide to try the diet again, when he can evaluate whether it's making a difference in his body in a way that I can't. As for me, I'll ease my guilt a little hopefully the Christmas lasagna puts a smile on that handsome face.

There's still other stuff to try--zinc and other vitamin supplements, yeast testing, other DAN doctor protocol (DAN doctor means Defeat Autism Now doctor and costs about $1,000 for a visit) and there's eep--medications--which is still unexplored territory for us. But in the end, it's going to come down to a great support system of family, therapists and friends in Theo's life. And if you're reading this--that's you!

Friday, October 30, 2009

Happy Halloween from Neverland

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My First Lolcat

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Klap your handz if you believe...  in meh kikking your azz.

For http://cheezburger.com
moar funny pictures

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Actual Photos of All Four of Us, WOW!

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We did a family photo shoot. Click here to see all the pics!

Go, Kids, GO!

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First of all, HAPPY BIRTHDAY, Uncle Gary!!!

Theo scored 100 on his very first spelling test! He has another one tomorrow, and I tested him at home just now and he knew all his words.

He also got a 75 on his first math test, but it covered a LOT of material like tally marks and word problems--I thought it was pretty hard! So I'm proud that he scored as well as he did.

As for Smelly, she cut another tooth! It's next to her two front teeth on top.

She's mastering her commands now. She pats the chair and says "sit down," she yells "Stop it" to Theo and the cats, and of course her favorite is still "MILK!" and "Meeeeeeeeeeeeee!"

Melody really says "no thank you" and "I love you" now...still kills me!

Theo's vocabulary improves daily. He's been having some behavior issues at school. The work is getting hard now, and he gets tons of homework. But overall he's doing really well! And other people (not his mom) are seeing it, too.

Monday, September 28, 2009

And The Words Keep On Comin'

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Here's the big one:

"I love you!"

and..

Book
Baby
Blueberry
Hug
Cannonball
Cereal
Hand (when she reaches for mine to get help down the stairs at the playground)
Hat

and today, during Spongebob's Opposite Day episode, she said "opposite"

Monday, September 14, 2009

What's She Sayin' Now?

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Kiss--Jiss (followed by mwah and a kiss)
Juice, water, coffee, amd all other liquids- juice

When she wants you to give her something she says "ME!" She'll demand "ME! ME! MEEEEEEEE!" til she gets what she wants. Usually it's food.

Hello (picking up cell phone)

Thank You (tank you) She used to say "thank you" when giving something rather than receiving it, but this morning she used it right for the first time. Theo gave her a piece of his muffin and she said "tank you!"

She's actually said "no tank you" a couple of times...appropriately refusing food.


Alligator (husband insists I include this)

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

1st Day, 1st Grade

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Here we go again, it's that time of year! Little man is off to school. He was so excited to get on the bus this morning!

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

A Moment

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"If life were only moments
Then you'd never know you had one"
-Sondheim, from Into the Woods

Joe and I were feeling depressed yesterday about the mess we live in. He does laundry--the clothes get thrown all over the house. I buy a nice new leather chair and piano bench, and the cats scratch them up. He mops, our feet still get black on the floor the next day...

But last night we put the kids to bed together. The four of us on Theo's little bed. We took turn reading stories. Both kids demanded we reread the books, Theo by using his words so nicely, and the baby by shoving books in our faces and babbling (she knew exactly what she was saying).

Then we made up silly songs, as we always do. Joe sang about the rocking cow, and Theo sang that the cow doesn't work because it needs batteries. We started laughing and couldn't stop!

And then they were asleep. We didn't need to discuss it--we both understood. We needed that moment of cuddling and laughter. That affirmation that told us how much we have and what really matters.

Friday, August 14, 2009

What's She Sayin' Now?

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More (Mo)
More Milk (Mo ma)(while making the sign for milk)
No More (no mo)(while shaking her head and making "all done" hands)
Juice (joos)
Bruce (boos)
Pasta (baba)

6th Brick Wall photo

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The annual brick wall photo

Monday, August 10, 2009

6 Years Old

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Theo turned 6 on the 6th..53 pounds and not sure how tall he is, but he's pretty enormous! Just marked his height on a wall in his room..had to start fresh in the new apartment. The sad thing about moving was saying goodbye to their height marks in the old place.

We escaped to Mystic on Wednesday to stay with my old buddy Marcail and her boyfriend, Drew, who have a lovely house in this cute seaport town. Katie joined us, which was a nice birthday present for Theo. The two women spoiled Theo rotten! Katie read Theo to sleep on his birthday.

These are my baking pals, so we baked gluten free bread, brownies and cupcakes.



Theo's favorite part of the vacation was the sailboating! We went out on their sailboat twice. Theo was so calm and peaceful. He was fascinated watching Drew operate the boat. He loved the waves that appeared when a speedboat came by. Drew let Theo steer the boat, and Theo did a nice job! On the second sailboat trip Theo rode with Joe and me on the front of the boat, a real highlight. He got to put his feet in the water and feel the waves. He just loved it!

CLICK HERE TO SEE PHOTOS FROM TRIP TO MYSTIC

Big thanks to Marcail for opening her amazing home to us! I'm just about ready for another vacation...

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Summer Sweeties

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Monday, August 03, 2009

Nights 3, 4, 5

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Night 3--Melody fell asleep in 6 minutes
Night 4- 15
Night 5-10

It's so sad--now she starts crying when she hears the lullabyes..she knows what's coming next!
But she's sleeping thru the night, 11 or 12 hours. And that's with another molar coming in!

Friday, July 31, 2009

Pseudo Language

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Here's what Melody is saying or has said (sorta)

No
Cat (da)
Dog (da) (You can tell the difference between da's)
Stop (dop)
Ball (baw)
Uh Oh
Mama
Dada
Theo (eeoh)
Grandma (ama)

Here's what she sings:

Lalalalala (From Elmo's World. We sing that every night before bed, and now whenever someone heads toward Theo's bed she sings lalalalala...it's the cutest thing ever! She also sings it when Elmo comes on TV)

e-i-e-i (From Old McDonald)

Animal sounds:
moo
woof (oof)
meow (eeow)

Night Two

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She only cried for 11 minutes and then slept through the night. This is too good to be true.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

First Tooth Gone!

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Last Friday, July 24, Theo lost his first tooth! Actually, he woke up with it missing. We didn't have the actual tooth to put under his pillow. I still haven't found it, so maybe he swallowed it. I'll just pretend the next tooth out is his first tooth when I put it in his baby book. :)

He looks so friggin' cute with the gap in his mouth, I can't take it!

I told him all about the Tooth Fairy, and he was really entranced. It was wonderful to see him grasp the story. We decorated an envelope. He wrote "Tooth Fairy" and we drew a fairy with a wand, and wrote the date. We put it under his pillow.

I had so much fun sneaking into his room and putting a lollipop under his pillow that night. When I asked him what he wanted from the Tooth Fairy, that's what he asked for.

The next morning when I went into his room, I melted at the sight of him. He was lying in his bed, holding the envelope and staring at it. I knew he must have reached under the pillow immediately when he woke up. I remember doing that as a kid, so that made me feel warm and gooey!

He was so excited about the lollipop. He talked about it all day. And he asked me where the Tooth Fairy was. I told him she flew away. He said "but the window's closed!"

Love that boy. The tooth next to it is loose now...here's hoping we can keep this one!

That Awful CIO--Crying it Out

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After months of no sleep I decided to try the Dr. Ferber "crying it out" method. I really shouldn't say the Ferber method. I didn't read his book, I just followed the advice of friends who had tried it. I really got to the point of desperation, because Melody at 13.5 months still was sleeping like a newborn. Nursing to go to sleep and waking up every two hours--at least--to nurse. She wasn't rested, I wasn't rested. We've both been so cranky. As much as Joe tried to help, he couldn't. She would only let me put her back to sleep. She wasn't hungry, she just wanted to suck. Plus poor Joe was on the couch most nights since she would take up so much room on our bed.

And so out of desperation I started day one of sleep training. I put her in her crib at 8 and didn't go in at all. After a little while of her screaming Joe said "I'm gonna get her, this is so mean." I asked him to first read a thread of emails between me and some friends who had tried it. After he read it, he agreed to give it a shot.

What made it harder was Theo getting so upset. He kept saying "Mommy, go get her! She's scared!" which broke my heart and made me feel worse than I already did.

But then miraculously at 8:30 she stopped screaming and was asleep. I can't believe it took "only" a half hour. I was expecting at least 2 or 3 hours of crying the first night.

Then over the next hour she kept waking up and giving a cry every five minutes and then going back to sleep. It was so bizarre. But I refused to go in. I stayed in the living room and watched TV on low volume to distract myself.

At 9:30 she was asleep for good, until 1:30--which is a really good stretch for her! Now ordinarly I would go in when she cries, but I decided to wait and see how long it would take for her to fall back asleep. I kept my blackberry next to me to keep track of time. Well, five minutes later I no longer heard her crying! I couldn't believe it. I wondered how many times I've gone in when I didn't need to.

She cried out again at 4 a.m. and again at 6 a.m. and both times fell back asleep right away. She cried again at 7 a.m. and at that point I decided to get her because Theo and Joe were both up and I figured she may be up for real. I wasn't sure how to know which wakeup was the "real" one! Anyway, Joe and I both noted that she seemed particulalry cheery this morning and more well rested than usual.

But I think we may have gotten lucky the first night. Will she cry for less time or longer tonight? Here's hoping that before long, Melody will understand the concept of soothing herself to sleep. In my wildest fantasies I'll put both kids to bed at the same time. Bathtime together, storytime together, sing songs together, cuddle, then shut the lights and leave them both in their bed/crib with no cries.

Wish me luck!!

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Walking Videos

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From this, on June 27:







to this, July 20:

Update

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Melody's 10th tooth is in..another molar!

Theo's tooth is still loose.

Walking is officially Melody's primary mode of transportation. She walks more than she crawls. It was a gradual process over 3 weeks. A few more steps every day..she grew more and more brave. Then over the past few days she suddenly took off! Even at the park, she gained confidence and finally realized that it feels better for her feet to be on the cement than her knees, and her hands don't have to touch the hot floor.

She's looking a little less like a drunk penguin when she walks, which is very sad. I'll miss my drunk penguin.

It's hilarious when she walks around holding something, like a toy (or randomly, a pair of pants, as she did yesterday).

Clothes look even cuter on her now, if that was possible.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Which Parent is Worse, Mommy or Daddy?

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Convo this morning:

Elyse: No wonder Melody is cranky. I just realized I forgot to give her breakfast!
Joe: I fed her a hot dog.
Elyse: A hot dog? For breakfast??
Joe: Well, you forgot to feed her!

A burst of laughter from both of us ensued...


(As I type this Melody is eating yogurt and bananas)

Theo's Turn For a Tooth Tale

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Theo has his first loose tooth! Way to steal Melody's teethin' thunder, boy!

I'm thrilled that Theo already watched it happen to a friend at school, so not only was he prepared, but he's very excited! So cute to see him wiggling the tooth with his tongue with a big smile--classic.

Someone's gonna turn 6 with a missing tooth!!

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Annual 4th of July Coney Island Trip 2009

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Tooth Number Nine...

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Ain't it fine?

That makes the center four on top and on bottom complete, plus a random molar in the back.

Friday, July 03, 2009

Dancing Theo

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As you can see, Theo had a blast at his ballet and tap recital. He had the biggest smile and we just couldn't believe his level of excitement and ease up on stage.


Can you see the love story in this photo between Theo and the pretty girl kneeling on the right?





Saturday, June 27, 2009

Walking Girl

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Melody took her first steps today!

Last night she began standing up from a sitting position, without using furniture or anything else to pull herself up. Then boom, the next day, she's standing in the living room and takes a few steps! She did it several times, and happily Joe and I were both home to see it.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Tooth Be Told

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Tooth number 8! Bottom center, next to the first two.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Beautiful Ballet Boy

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Ballerina Flower

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Monday, June 15, 2009

Melody Is 1

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I was holding Melody this morning and I passed by the mirror. I gasped and did a double-take. She was stunning! My once-goofy baby was beautiful. Of course she was always beautiful, and of course she will continue to be goofy. But there was something about this moment--her transformation became apparent all at once. She was a beautiful toddler.

Only she doesn't toddle yet. She's taking her time, and I don't mind. Theo was 11.5 months when he first walked, but Melody is in no hurry. I think she likes her place as the baby of the family. As long as she has arms to be cuddled in and fingers to hold on to as she walks, she feels safe as content.

Now that she's 1, her personality has really become her own. She makes jokes and understands ours. She thinks it's hilarious when she drops something off the highchair and the cats eat it, so she tries to give them all her food. Actually, she loves to feed everyone. She even tried to feed a waitress recently! Nothing pleases her more than for someone to accept her offer.

She also thinks it's hilarious to bite me while nursing...she knows it gets a reaction out of me! The bigger the show of pain, the funnier it is!

We gave her a set of instruments for her birthday and she instantly knew how to use the cymbals. Her favorite, though, is the triangle!

On her birthday Theo forced me to go out at 8PM and buy party hats and balloons. I had failed him as a mother for not having these things.

Melody slept through the first hour of her birthday party yesterday, which was great because I was still setting up anyway. When she woke up to a room full of 30 adults and toddlers, she took it all in. She didn't cry--just looked around and tried to figure out why everyone she knew in the world was in one spot. After a few minutes, she was smiling away. Mom and dad played songs on the piano and led the toddlers in a singalong as they banged instruments! Truly wonderful.

We sat her in her birthday throne and sang "Happy Birthday" -- she did the appropriate toddler thing and devoured the cupcake, covering her face with frosting! Lots of photographing from guests ensued. (I will update this post with photos and video when I have them.)

Melody's 7th tooth, a molar, came in this morning. Her hair is growing rapidly and is mostly wavy but curly when it rains! 1 year later, her eyes are an icy blue. We've marked her height on the wall in her room in our new apartment, days after wishing Theo's height markings goodbye in our old apt.

She is 21 pounds and switching daily between chubby and slender, depending on growth spurts.

She loves baths so much that for her birthday, I gave her two baths and let her stay in longer! And there is no such thing as one of them taking the bath without the other. And these days they're joined by Theo's baby doll, who he undresses, reads to, and washes.

Melody's doing a great job with pointing and waving bye bye. She even blows kisses! We are still waiting for her babblings of mama and dada to apply to us, though. Her most specific word is cat ("at").

Here's to the next year of first steps, first words, and of course--lots more dresses!

Monday, April 13, 2009

Naked Cowboy

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The Naked Cowboy has been playing guitar and singing in his underwear for years. He plays Times Square and has achieved astonishing fame!

Theo, upon seeing the Naked Cowboy:

"He's in his underwear!"

Friday, April 10, 2009

Happy Ten Months Birthday, Melody!

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My beautiful blued-eyed baby is losing her babyness.

Melody is fantastic. Just look at her. Charming, graceful--and most of all, Melodic! She likes to sing along with my cell phone when it rings (I have the theme song from E.T. as my ringtone). And when she hears music, she can't help but dance!

Melody loves pasta. Phew!

Melody waves bye-bye--backwards, using both hands.

Melody performs Itsy Bitsy Spider and loves to wash the spider out!

What else can I say in this stream of conscience post...the little Chicklet continues to adore her brother and the cats. I admire her courage and big 'ol heart. She is determined to make nice with the kitties who fear her.

Right now, as I type this, she is dancing to Hugh Jackman singing "I Go To Rio" from The Boy From Oz.

She is about 27 or 28 inches, and not yet 20 pounds. She stood up unsupported for a whole 5 seconds--today, in fact!

Melody's favorite room is the bathroom. Take your eyes off her for one second, and sure enough, she is standing at the tub knocking the bottles in or splashing in the toilet. We can be anywhere, doing anything, and if she hears the water in the tub running she quivers with excitement! There's no such thing as bathing Theo without having to give in and let Melody join him. It's just as well, since he insists on having her in there with him anyway.

My daughter now says "mama mama mama" on a daily basis, but so far I don't think she's talking to me.

She loves toys but has no special one yet; no lovey. And her favorite foods are unfortunately still bits of paper and plastic.

Another favorite activity is to empty my purse and go through my wallet. I think she's after my credit card. Yep, she's a girl all right!

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Mamamamama

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Melody has really been saying "ma ma ma ma" over the past few days! At first I didn't think she was referring to me at all, but there have been a couple of times when it has seemed like she was talking to me. Patting my leg, looking straight at me and saying "mama" ... It's hard to know for sure. Regardless, though, it sure is a sweet sound to hear!

Friday, April 03, 2009

A Bath Biggie

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We have a bath book that comes with a washcloth. On each page is a different animal. You take the washcloth and "scrub the duckies, scrub the cow, scrub the piggy, you know how. Scrub the chickens, that'll do, silly chickens, now wash YOU!"

Theo loves washing the animals and then washing Melody.

This morning while Melody was in the bath I opened the book and handed her the washcloth to see what she'd do. Normally she immediately tries to eat it. But today--sure enough, she started scrubbing the duckies!

What a smartie I've got on my hands. :)

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Don't Be Scared, Melody!

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We joined the zoo this weekend. Melody and Theo have one thing in common--their mutual fascination with penguins! Melody's eyes grew wide and her body animated when she and the penguins were face to face with just the glass in between them. After a visit Theo's other fave, the polar bears at the Central Park Zoo, we moved on to the Children's Zoo.

It was Melody's first time at the petting zoo. She was taken aback, to say the least, when the sheep ate out of her hand. She was so scared she cried! But soon after watching Theo feed the sheep and the goats, she grew brave. She was a pro by the time we left.

Hello to Bye-Bye!

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I got a nice present for the first day of April--no foolin'! Melody waved bye-bye to me from her car seat! Sharon picked her up to take her to playgroup, and I waved as I always do, and boom! She did it back. I'm glad Sharon was there as my witness! Melody did a cute little backwards wave.

And just to show me just how smart she is, she waved for me again at home later.

This weekend at Grandma Popcorn's house, they practiced the "Sooo big" game. She's really getting it down! (And so is Melody).

:)

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Aunt Pia and Uncle Gary Visit!

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Despite the men's efforts to thwart my video, I still have a cute account of Aunt Pia and Theo reading together. She's a natural teacher and he did very well with her.

Theo Feeds His Baby Sister

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This speaks for itself. I have nothing to say except I LOVE this video!!!

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

A Theo Milestone!

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Theo is on the floor reading Melody a book on kittens, so I'm taking a moment to gush! I'm so, so excited! He came home today and for the first time, told me something he did in school! It may not sound like a big deal, but it is to me. He's never told me about his day unprompted before.

He showed me a dance he learned, and then wanted me to do it. Of all things, it was the Macarena! He was so adorable--he even counted to four with each step, which really impressed me. All the while wearing his signature huge smile!

We all know how routine-oriented he is, so I think after enough days of being asked what he did in school today, he finally volunteered the information. Makes me feel like I did something right! Which is a nice feeling, considering all the mom guilt I plague myself with on a daily basis. ;)

P.S. Happy St. Patrick's Day! Thanks, Sharon, for making green cupcakes with him! We're so lucky to have you :)

P-I-E

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Theo and Melody both love a show called Word World on PBS. Animals put together letters, and once they spell a word, the word turns into the thing. On one recent episode, when the pig spelled P-I-E, the letters became a pie. But he only made one pie, and his friends were sad that they couldn't share. Then he had the brilliant idea to add an S! Once he spelled P-I-E-S, there were pies for everyone! Theo totally got the concept. And all week, he bugged me to make a pie with him.

Saturday we made a three-berry pie, and we even made the crust from scratch! The kitchen was a mess, but it was so worth it. The pie was delicious!


Theo cut out the strips of dough.


Yum! Berry pie with vanilla ice cream a la mode!

Monday, March 16, 2009

Mini Milestones

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I say, "How big is Melody?" I lift my arms and say "Soooo big!"
This morning, she lifted one arm! She also took both my hands and lifted my arms!

Incidentally, when Theo hears this he says "How little is my doll? So little!" What a sillybutt.

Yesterday Melody clapped in the bath, but she wouldn't do it again so I figured it was a fluke. But today after Joe practiced with her a bit she clapped a few times again! Yes, I cried. I'm terrible that way. Sigh!

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Tappin' Theo

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Theo got his tap shoes! Miss Kimberly, the dance teacher, told me I should have seen the look on his face when he first put them on and tried them out. That excitement had built up for three weeks! He was beside himself with joy.

She also told me she was shocked--and she emphasized the word shocked-- that he remembered the correct ballet arm position for boys. She said she even forgot, but he remembered from the week before! He puts his hands on his hips while the girls hold their arms out. My little masculine ballerino. :)

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Happy 9 Months Birthday, Melody!

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We call her our little chicklet. Because her teeth overwhelm that gorgeous smile of hers!


Gettin' some luvin from Aunt Gloria
Stylin' at Nonny's House.




Ain't she the cutest little frog?

9 months in, 9 months out. Phew! Right now she's trying to eat Theo's underwear, which is on the floor. Hang on....OK, I'm back. Underwear removed, replaced with mini xylophone, gift from Grandma Ice Cream.

I can't report on her measurements yet, but she'll be at the doc tomorrow, so I'll update this. I'm guessing she weighs 19. 5 lbs. We'll see if I'm right. She's a good eater, eating everything from beets to sweet potatoes to whipped cream. All the time and love I put into making her food, forget it. It was her first taste of a McDonald's french fry that had the angels singing. If you could have seen the look on her face! Joe tells me it was the same when he gave her a sample of ice cream. At first she was surprised by the cold, but when the flavor hit her, a smile exploded on her face!
When Melody eats beets, everything turns red. And I do mean EVERYTHING.
Melody knows the words cat, monkey, and glasses. When you say one of these things she looks for it. And she kinda sorta maybe said glasses...well, gass. You can see it in this video.

But she still calls everything and everyone da-da. :)
She loves baths! She practically jumps in when she realizes the water is running. She can't get enough of Theo's toy frog that winds up and spins. Theo always insists that they take their baths together, which is just fine with her! She follows him from room to room. The other day I even caught him reading to his baby sister. He was reading her a lift-the-flap book and lifting the flaps for her and showng her pictures. He told me Melody was his very best friend, and he made a card for her. At the playground this weekend, my friend was holding Melody and took her to the swings, and Theo got very mad when he couldn't find her. "Where's my Melody?" he demanded.He still carries around his Melody doll and mimics with the doll Melody's every move. The doll eats when Melody eats (yes, he does take off his shirt, put the boppy on, and put her to his "boobie") crawls when Melody crawls, and now even bathes with them. He calls it his doll friend. She comes with us on outings and sleeps with him. He wears the doll in the Ergo (my baby carrier) around the house and pushes her in her stroller. Sad to say, but these days she's been replacing Knuffle Bunny.

Melody has taught herself to walk sideways. Holding onto the couch, she can walk from one side to the other! But shen she really wants to get somewhere, speed crawling is her mode of transportation.
Melody adores the cats, but they've finally grown tired of tolerating her baby antics. Bruce took his first swipe at her when she grabbed a handful of fur, and she looked more betrayed than physically hurt. Happily, she forgave him and continues to bounce with excitement when he enters the room.

As you can see from the photos, she looks exactly like Joe. I like seeing my two favorite people share a smile! Besides, my other favorite person, the boy, already looks like me. So fair is fair. :)

Saturday, March 07, 2009

The Kids Storm the Children's Museum of Manhattan

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It's long, but worth watching!



After the museum, we went to a diner and had our first family dinner out where Melody joined us at the table! She sat in a highchair and ate chicken and crackers. Theo loved having her sit with us. The kids were both so well behaved. Well, except for when Theo mixed his milk with his water. But at least he drank it!

Friday, March 06, 2009

Ultimate Sweetheart

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Theo loved making a birthday card for Uncle Elliot on Sunday. Since then, he's been cutting out squares and writing our names and giving them to us! I'm accumulating a collection of "mommy" cards, "daddy" cards, and "Melody" cards. Sometimes he'll staple pieces of paper together to make a card. He's pretty obsessed with stapling lately, too.

But the card thing is indicative of how sweet he is. No one told him to make us cards; he really enjoys the act of giving. Sharon says he makes cards for her at her house, too! And that his "S" is backwards...so cute. :)

And I should also add that he's getting really good at writing his letters!

My Date With My Son

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Theo is the most fun when we're out. He's at his cutest, most charming out, probably because he's always so excited to be out with us and not shipped off to school. Joe and I both had one-on-one dates with him. Joe took him to see the Gazillion Bubbles Show--they both wore sportsjackets for this theatrical experience. But that's Joe's story to tell. Here's an account of my date with my boy.

CLICK HERE TO VIEW FULL PHOTO ALBUM OF DATE

We grabbed hot chocolate for the train ride. Or as Theo put it--"I'll have hot chocolate, and you have tea, mommy!" Theo and I headed to Bryant Park for his first ever ice skating attempt. I've never seen anyone have so much fun falling! He never did get the hang of it, but we still had a blast. The next day I was incredibly sore--I didn't even realize how hard I worked my muscles by trying to keep him upright.


After a McDonald's lunch, we headed for the Museum of Natural History. We visited the Butterfly Conservatory. He was in awe! He really was. I didn't expect it. I also didn't expect the butterflies to be as enormous as they were! They were magnificent.



After that, we participated in a planetarium focus group. We had to watch a boring planetarium screening on a tiny TV..he was a good boy during that half hour. After answering questions, we were released with 4 free tickets back to the museum, planetarium, and all the special exhibits! Sweeeet.
A rhino! Or at least he used to be...


We visited all the animals, and he was mildly interested, but by then he was so exhausted he wanted to go home. Even the dinosaur skeletons weren't enough to keep him awake. So, next time we'll start with that.

Before we left, he picked out a cute book on caterpillars and butterflies from the gift shop. It was a truly magical date. I love spending one on one time with my little sweetheart. He's a great kid.

ONCE AGAIN, CLICK HERE TO VIEW FULL PHOTO ALBUM OF DATE!

Theo Does Yoga and Dances!

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Theo was so beautiful and elegant doing yoga with me, and enjoyed it so much, that I decided to enroll him in dance. (I confess I also had just seen Billy Elliot on Broadway and pictured Theo with his long, lovely body in dance clothes and ballet shoes). He's taking a ballet/tap class once a week. So far he loves it! There is one other boy in his class. He doesn't have his shoes yet, but he's particularly excited to get his tap shoes! And they have a little recital in June--it's going to be so adorable.


The first time I saw him in class, spinning across the floor, arms out with a smile on his face, my heart jumped! And he did kicks across the floor with his characteristic focused face; It was the most beautiful thing I'd ever seen. I'm really glad we're doing this. I'm so proud of how well he did; he kept up with most of the girls who had been in the class since September.

Mom's also going to start piano lessons with him Monday, and he begins tee ball in the Spring. The idea is for him to have fun above all, be well rounded and find something he's really good at. I think it's important to develop something, whatever it turns out to be. The worst thing that could happen to Theo is for him to get lost. He works best when engaged. A neurologist told us that a couple of years ago, and it's very true. He needs to go to the zoo, the museum, see shows, do projects--keep his mind active as much as possible. This is true for all kids of course, but Theo really requires the sensory experiences. And he's a very visual learner, so the more he sees, the better.

Happy 8 months birthday, Melody!

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This will be a quickie since, um, oops--Melody will be 9 months in 4 days! But I remember she got her 5th tooth on Valentine's Day and the 6th tooth right after. She was 18.5 pounds, and as you can see, standing very nicely!

Monday, February 09, 2009

Theo is Funny

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Sharon, Theo's babysitter, just IMed me this and I had to share. (Mariah is Sharon's daughter.)


"the other day i kept sneezing and he says to MAriah "MYRIAH go get mommy a tissue pleeeaseeeee" !! lol we were laughing and Mariah said Theo thats not mommy that's Sharon and he said I know silly girl thats your mommy now get her a tissue!!! "

Friday, February 06, 2009

Tooth Number 4!

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OK, this is crazy! They're coming in so quickly!