Thursday, January 30, 2014

birthday boy

My sweet little man...

Every year I write a letter to you and this year as I was thinking about what I wanted to say, I decided that my previous post was a tribute to the amazing year you've had this past year.  While there have been struggles, you continued to shine through them all.  You've learned how to read, you've lost 2 teeth, and you have exceeded my expectations after we moved you away from the only home you'd ever known.  You have really just grown up right before my eyes into this amazing, funny and sensitive boy that is my whole heart living outside my body.
My favorite picture of you taken in the NICU ~ you were about 2 weeks old

So for this letter, I want to tell you about today.  I am writing this on the day before your 7th birthday.  All day I've had fun teasing you and "pretending" to cry and be sad that everything you did today was the "last" time you'll do them when you are six.  The last day of school being 6, the last good night story, the last kiss, the last hug.  You would smile and giggle but then very seriously you asked me "But you will still love me when I'm seven, right mom?"  Oh my sweet boy, you make me laugh so much.  I told you I would love you even more, and more every day after that.

As we hugged before bed, and you went to hear a story with daddy and I went to read to your sister, I came downstairs and paused by your room.  I couldn't help myself.  I had to go in and cuddle with you.  You have a loft bed, so it isn't easy for people to lay and cuddle with you anymore, which I know you miss that.  So I took off my glasses, and climbed up the ladder.  You had this huge grin on your face and asked me what I was doing.  I scooped you into my arms and you nestled right in, just like you did when I first held you.  Right then and there I knew what it felt like to not have a care in the world but being with you.  The mountain of dishes and laundry could wait.  Setting up your birthday decorations and wrapping your presents could wait.  My computer time could wait.  Time stood still and I just laid there with you in my arms and I prayed.  I thanked God for you, and for the miracle that you are.  I thanked Him for all He has taught us through you and your amazing life.

I rubbed your back and you got "goose" bumps.  I couldn't talk to you, because your hearing aids were shut off and on your nightstand below us.  I have always known what it was like to lay with you and cuddle at bedtime with no words.  Sometimes I think those have been the best times, because silence speaks volumes.  We can look at each other and love surrounds us.  You know what I am thinking.  You know how much I love you.  And you are happy.  No words are necessary.

I gave you one last "six year old" kiss and patted your back and you turned around, put your little arm around my neck and said "stay."  Ohmyheart.  Melted right then and there.  I stayed.  I could have stayed there forever.  This time I just watched you.  I watched your eyes flicker closed, your chest rise and fall, I noticed a little piece of your hair the lady forgot to clip off at your hair cut last week.  I noticed the shape of your little nose is just like mine.  I just studied everything about your sweet little face.  I was soaking you in.  I know you won't be little for much longer, and you are growing up right before my eyes.  As I felt you relax and fall asleep, I kissed you one last time and crawled back down the ladder.  The memory of this night will stay with me forever.

You fell asleep with a smile on your face.

And my heart is as happy as it could ever be.

I love you my sweet little boy, you are my world.

Love Mama

Monday, January 27, 2014

the elephant in the room

This post has been swirling around in my mind for a while now.  About six months to be exact.  To be honest it took a while for me to decide if I should publically “put this all out there.”  I’ve never spent as much time analyzing, editing, deleting, and rereading a post for this blog as I have on this one.  It is so important for me to be clear, yet sensitive.  It is a delicate topic.  One that deserves careful thought and consideration.  I had to consider if it was even necessary to share.  Will people think differently about the little boy they have come to know and love on this blog?  His birthday week it has become clear to me that it is time to share it. 

What I am about to disclose to the blog world doesn’t change anything.  And if everyone reading this gets to the end and still believes that, then I achieved my goal.  Let me be clear… Andrew is still the same Andrew he always was, and always will be.  Nothing I am about to say is more important for you to know than that.

I decided to share for three reasons:

1- I would like our family and friends to know, and this blog is the best way to reach everyone without having to explain this story 273 times.  Sharing this will explain a lot about Andrew that many people (who know Andrew in person) may have wondered about.  Things that I make excuses about or try to hide.  The elephant in the room, if you will.  None of you have asked for an explanation, but it’s time to give one.

2- It might help someone else.  Plain and simple.  Because we all know in this blog world, there is always someone else out there who is searching for answers, grasping at straws.  Pouring over the internet to find an explanation for something their child does that they need answers to.  I have been doing this for almost 7 years. 

3 - Last but probably the most important reason of all, I felt like after my blog post last spring where I discussed Andrew’s difficult Kindergarten year, I feel I owe it to him to update on his progress.  Because it’s been miraculous.  I feel like a follow up update is necessary and long overdue.

I’m warning you.  It’s long.  But please stay with me.  I tried to intersperse some old photos along the way, because it's fun to look back.  And hard to believe my baby is going to be seven years old this week.

Many of you remember this post at the end of the school year last year where I reluctantly announced that Andrew’s year in Kindergarten didn’t exactly go as well as we had hoped.  To put it bluntly, he struggled.  Not just academically, but socially and behaviorally as well.  (By the way, it’s never easy to publically admit that your child is not successful in school.  It’s especially hard for me.  I’m a teacher.  My kid is supposed to excel, right?)

So let’s cut to the chase…

Sometimes Andrew flaps his hands.  He hums.  He makes clicking sounds.  He jerks his head and rolls his eyes.  Blinks a lot.  Now, these obviously are not things I write about on the blog.  They are minor details in the scheme of things.  But if you know Andrew, you probably know he does some of these things.  Maybe you’ve wondered why.  Or perhaps you haven’t noticed at all, because he doesn’t do them all the time.
So what does this have to do with him not doing well in school?  Well, when he is doing these things he tends to not be listening.  He’s in a “zone” and not really clued in to what is going on.  Most of the time Andrew does these things when he is excited, but sometimes when he’s overwhelmed, bored, shy, or doesn’t know how to react to something.  Enter Kindergarten.  Enter new, young teacher who wasn’t equipped to handle this kind of issue.  New experiences, huge transition. 

Let me back up…

The truth is that deep down I’ve always known there was something else.  My mommy instinct told me right away.  When he was a tiny baby and would flip on his back, stiffen, and flap his hands and feet, it scared me.
I worried about Autism spectrum disorders, seizures… But moments later as I would cradle him in my arms and he would snuggle up to me and smile the most beautiful smile, it made me worry just a little less.  His personality was always there.  He literally sparkled.  That smile never wavered.  And deep down I also knew that whatever “it” was, it wasn’t holding him back from growing up and being the amazing, friendly little boy that he is.

Whatever it was, it didn’t matter.  He thrived in preschool.  His teachers and I would sometimes talk about the fact that he would hum at the lunch table, and his friends would sometimes ask him why he was making those noises.  But it never interfered, and no one was ever concerned.  To be honest, many people never even notice it.  I think for Craig and I, as his parents, we notice it the most. 

Years ago I brought it up with Andrew’s pediatrician, whom we love and trust.  We started to speak more with teachers, specialists, his audiologist, eye doctors… All of these people who knew and loved Andrew, and had worked with him for years, put our fears aside and assured us not to worry.  However, we realized that focusing on each separate issue was getting us nowhere (for example, since he was blinking a lot, I thought that warranted multiple appointments with the eye doctor).  Did it have to do with his hearing?  His audiologist assured us it didn’t.  No one else offered any insights.

While his personality is unaffected, the bottom line was… we knew we had to take action when these things started impacting him at school and in activities outside of school.  Hindering his learning and his ability to focus and understand what was going on around him.   I was literally sending my child into the trenches of kindergarten every single day knowing he was learning next to nothing.
It bothered me more than I cared to admit when his Tae Kwon Do instructor made Andrew do push ups for “rolling” his eyes at him.  “Hold still Andrew, focus Andrew…” he would say during class.  I could only bite my tongue for so long.  I needed an explanation.  It soon became clear that he couldn’t focus, couldn’t hold still.  It wasn’t something he could control.
When his Kindergarten teacher told us he was in the “strategic” reading group (whatever that means), and several of his scores across all subject areas were the lowest in the class, worry began rearing its ugly head once again.  And let me just say that those things are very difficult for me to put out there.  They are things I never told anyone but my mom and a few close friends.  It’s not that I wasn’t proud of Andrew, because I always am.  But here I was a teacher, and my son was struggling.  And there was nothing I could do to make it better.

We knew it was time to delve deeper into the issue and try to get some answers.   So our pediatrician referred us to a neurologist and a developmental pediatrician, who both had waiting lists months long.  So we waited almost 6 months for these appointments, knowing that each day that passed, Andrew was falling farther and farther behind.  It was torture as a parent.  Every day felt like a waste.  Time was of the essence. 
This has always been a favorite...his red carpet entrance while being honored at the Heart Ball

I won’t go into all the details of these appointments, but we were extremely impressed with the doctors and they performed an extensive evaluation and lots of testing.  Autism spectrum disorders were ruled out within minutes of Dr. Noble meeting Andrew.  But he did offer us that long awaited answer.  Finally an explanation for what we had wondered about for almost 7 years.

Andrew has Tourette’s Syndrome. 

It is such a relief to finally say that out loud.  To put that out there. 

And yes, you read that right.  While many people think of Tourette’s as something like this:
That’s not the reality.  It has taken me some time to learn more and accept this, and be able to offer up a little humor.  Because I will admit that my breath was taken away when I actually heard the doctor say it.  All I could think about was that weird syndrome where people shout and yell out inappropriate things at random times.  Was he really telling me this?  Let me be clear.

Andrew doesn’t do any of those things. 

A while back I had googled some of Andrew’s characteristics and Tourette’s Syndrome popped up on my search.  I quickly put it out of my mind and moved on, refusing to believe that was even an option to explore.

I was in denial.
I didn’t want it to be that.

But why?

It doesn’t change anything.   I just kept repeating that to myself enough times and it finally sunk in.  This was no big deal.   The only difference is, now we have answers.  Now we know why Andrew does what he does.  Nothing has changed except that now we know why.  And now we know how to help him be more successful academically.

Tourette’s is often referred to as a “tic disorder.”  Basically, all of these characteristics that Andrew exhibits are called tics.  They are movements that are out of his control.  They can be described like an itch that you can’t scratch.  You can hold them in to some extent, but ultimately it will drive you crazy until you have to let the movement occur.  There is not much for medication that is known to help.  Of the people with TS, 2/3 outgrow it and tics will decrease over time, and 1/3 stay the same or get worse. Dr. Noble was fairly confident that Andrew is in the 2/3 category, although there is no way to know that for sure.

The good news- Andrew’s TS is very mild.  It doesn’t affect his health in any way.  He does not suffer from this, like many people with Tourette’s do.  Most of the time, Andrew’s tics are triggered by certain things in his environment.  For example when he’s happy or excited, his hands flap back and forth.  When he is not engaged in learning, he tunes things out by humming, or shaking his head, or rolling his eyes.  These are not things that occur continuously like some people with TS.   They are inconsistent and involuntary movements and sounds that he cannot control.  Some times and some days they are worse than others. 

This is the thing everyone needs to understand:  He cannot control it.  It took me a while to let this sink in.  I am ashamed to admit that all these years I have been trying to hide these characteristics.  Telling him to stop, when clearly, he couldn’t.  Getting embarrassed when he does them in public.  Wanting to take him and run when we’ve been in situations where these tics were completely noticeable and it felt like every eye was on me, waiting for an explanation that I didn’t have. 

I have been consumed worrying about what others would think, rather than just accepting it and realizing that Andrew was not doing these things out of spite.  Deep down I knew that.  But it just wasn’t socially acceptable.  Why did I care so much about what others thought?  It’s hard to explain.  I think ultimately I wanted an explanation, so I could know the reason behind this mystery that we’d always known existed.

I now have realized that it is so freeing to be around people who already know Andrew’s diagnosis (refer to reason #1 for sharing this information).  I was just telling my BFF the other day how freeing it feels that for the first time, I don’t have to try to be discreet while telling Andrew to stop humming, or jerking his head, or flapping his arms.  By “putting it out there,” all selfish reasons aside, I have now allowed Andrew to just be Andrew.  And I continue to be proud of the amazing little boy that he is.
But let’s be real.

Socially… I’m terrified for him.  I’ve always worried about his differences and how they will impact his interactions with others.  Would the kids tease him because of his hearing aids?  Or would they point and stare at his scar at the swimming pool?  I kinda feel like he has enough on his plate to deal with.  Social things are many times so much more difficult to explain.  They are much more visible than his chest scar.  They can’t be hidden (Trust me, I’ve tried).
In the past Andrew has had some difficulty identifying with peers and making friends.  This improves every year, but it still takes effort.  His cousins are his preferred playmates, and he normally surrounds himself with one or two special friends at school.  He’s never cared much about sports, which is what most boys his age are into.

After we moved and attended our first football game this fall, I encouraged Andrew to join in with some of his new classmates who were tossing the football around during the game.  Reluctantly, he joined them.  And bless his little heart, he was trying so hard to fit in.  But I could tell he wasn’t having fun.  It’s just not his thing.  Admittedly, sometimes I want it to be his thing.  Part of me feels like it’s his “ticket” to acceptance.  Then another part of me feels like why am I interfering?  He is doing just fine on his own. 
Andrew has already proven time and time again that he is a fighter.  He can persevere.  He can put differences aside and just be himself.  And he is able to shine bright enough for others to see past what separates him.  He is proud of who he is and he has established his own interests and found his talents.  The things that make him happy.  And ultimately, that is all that really matters.  And he can make friends, because he is an enthusiastic, friendly and funny little man who captures the hearts of everyone who knows him.
How can his arms flapping when he's excited be looked at as negative, as long as his face looks like this?

I am confident that TS is not going to define him.  It isn’t even going to be a big part of his life.  Andrew's body is so complex.  He is already battling so many things and this is nothing new for him.  Now it just has a name.

So, how is Andrew doing today?  A move to a new town and new school with a new teacher is about 6 months under our belts.... let me explain.

And this is the miraculous part of the story.

At our appointment with Dr. Noble last summer, we came equipped with his Kindergarten teacher's surveys and stacks of information from the school psychologist, social worker, etc.  Everything pointed to ADHD.  His Kdg teacher kept calling him "unfocused," when really, he was just having tics (which we didn't know at the time).  For some reason, his tics became much more present in Kindergarten than they ever had before.  He was having them about 85% of the day (and during this time was being referred to as "unfocused.")  We ended the year with an IEP meeting to add reading, math and writing goals back to the IEP, which had been removed the year before because he had done so well in preschool and was more than ready for Kdg.

Being the amazing doctor that he is, Dr. Noble wanted to wait until the new school year started and ask his new teacher to complete the same surveys before making the huge decision to put him on medication.  It was also a double edged sword because most of the meds used to treat ADHD can increase the tics.  There is plenty of research out there connecting Tourette's, ADHD and OCD (but let's face it, he gets the OCD from his mother.  That's certainly not new information!  Ha!)  In all seriousness,  we ended Kindergarten discouraged, feeling helpless and extremely concerned about Andrew's future in school.

Enter first grade.  Enter Mrs. Nichols.

I do feel like a large part of the success of this story is because of her.  All it takes is one caring teacher, to love, to understand, to desire what is best for your child and to believe that they can succeed.  God bless her.  I have been a teacher myself for over 13 years and I can honestly say that she is one of the best I have ever known.  I know with 100% certainty that this move our family made, this new school and Mrs. Nichols were placed into our lives for a purpose.

I was so worried about uprooting our family, especially Andrew.  But he has done nothing but thrive.  He has made up an entire school year in 6 months time.  He is reading on grade level.  He comes home and wants to read books.  He actually asks for paper and a pencil to write stories and he is excited about learning.  And it's been a long time since we've seen this occur.  At conferences in the fall, Mrs. Nichols quickly proposed dropping all academic goals from Andrew's IEP.  At this point, Craig and I didn't know if we should laugh or cry.  I am not sure the same goals have been added and dropped this many times in the history of IEP's.  Ha!
Needless to say, when we returned to Dr. Noble for a follow up this fall, he took one look at Mrs. Nichols' survey and was stunned.  He had already cleared it with Andrew's cardiologist to start him on medication for ADHD.  We were ready at this appointment to learn what we needed to and get the ball rolling.  But we all breathed a huge sigh of relief when he put his papers aside and told us the responses didn't warrant putting him on medication.  A huge answer to prayer.  And a direct result of excellent teaching.

We have been learning along with Mrs. Nichols as far as what works for Andrew to help him be successful in class.  I am still learning, researching and finding lots of good resources out there for teachers and parents.  I have shared a few suggestions with her based on my findings, but she is doing most of it on her own.  She has found what works, and we now know that when Andrew is engaged in learning, involved and excited about what is being taught, his tics decrease dramatically.  We have all learned how to manage his symptoms so he feels comfortable in class and can learn.  Mrs. Nichols said she hardly ever notices the tics.  So he has gone from 85% of the time, to almost 0%.

That is where he was in preschool, with another incredible teacher.  This is why I was so confused and discouraged last year when things were going downhill fast and I couldn't explain it.  I just kept saying "but he did so well in preschool!"  And everyone kept telling me Kindergarten was so different than preschool, which is true to some extent.  But it turns out there was a little bit more to the story.  And now we know that Andrew's future teachers are going to have the biggest impact on his success.  We know that all kids need good teachers, but in Andrew's case, they are going to be essential for him to be able to learn.  So now I am praying for all of his future teachers, and that God will purposefully place each one in his life.  We know there will be bumps in the road, but we know that ultimately, Andrew will persevere.  Just like he always has.

Oh, and just a fun little tidbit for those who have made it this far... Remember Dr. Noble?  The amazing doctor who finally gave us the answers we needed to move forward?  Guess what?  He has Tourette's Syndrome.  This is a wonderful article about him and how he has overcome the obstacles of TS and is symptom free today.  He gives us hope.  And we don't think it's a coincidence that he is Andrew's doctor.

So, now you know.  Andrew is still the same Andrew he has always been.  Nothing has changed.

His personality still shines brighter than the brightest star.
He is still the miracle that turned our world upside down.
And in 3 short days, he's going to turn seven.

And that's all you really need to know.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

slam dunk

My little man wanted to play basketball this season.  I was so happy about this, as he normally isn't that excited about sports much.  With his heart condition, he may not be able to play many sports in the future, so we haven't really pushed the issue.  He is doing so well medically right now, that he is able to do most anything he wants.  So we certainly don't want to discourage it!
The best part was, Daddy got to coach Andrew's team!
Andrew could not wait for practices to begin.  It was such a special thing for Craig to be able to adjust his schedule so he could be at most practices and games.  With his job, it is very tricky to do.  So it meant the world to Andrew.
He would count down the days of the week until Thursday.  I love how intently he is listening to his daddy here.
This was the first game day.  Andrew was so happy!
I love this!
My camera doesn't take the best pictures in gymnasiums, but I love how Andrew's arms are up here, "blocking" like daddy taught him!
Bless his heart, he isn't the star of the team by any means.  But he tries!  He ran after that ball just as fast as anyone.  
Most importantly, he got to spend precious time with his daddy, and learned about teamwork, determination and sportsmanship.  It was such a positive experience.  Even though the season was during the busiest time of year, November and December!
Since Andrew has acquired a love for basketball, we couldn't wait to take him to this special event at Daddy's school!
The Harlem Globetrotters came to our small town Iowa!  It was amazing!
Craig's school gym is undergoing a 13 million dollar renovation project, and this event was organized by Craig and several others to help raise money.  The gym is unique because it is in the shape of a circle- called the "Roundhouse."  It is treasured by everyone in town and I think the whole town plus several others were at this event to support it!
The Globetrotters are such great performers!  They are hilarious!  The kids were cracking up and having the best time watching their antics!
We loved having Craig's brother and his family, and Ga Ga and Papa and several friends join us in the stands!
Andrew was so happy!
Basketball and cousins... it doesn't get much better than that for him!

Somebody else wasn't as thrilled.  Ha!  A girl after my own heart... she'd rather be shopping!
Our friends Grace and Emily!
We thought it was pretty cool the players came out afterwards to sign autographs and take pictures!
This picture just cracks me up.  This is what it's like trying to get a picture!  Andrew acting like a goof ball and Kerigan watching him and laughing! (You can kind of see the rounded ceiling in this picture).
She was so sweet with her daddy.  She wanted him during the whole game (once she woke up) but he had to be walking around and supervising so we didn't see much of him until the end.
Since Daddy was overseeing the event, Andrew got this special T-shirt which he had signed by one of the players.  Andrew was so proud of it!  He wore it to school on the first day back and he told us the P.E. teacher said it was "Awesome!"  Ha!

I'm so proud of my little man for finding something he loves and running with it!  May you always chase your dreams, Andrew!

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

my girly girl

I thought it was about time for an update about my sweet girl.  Since I am not doing the monthly updates anymore (she's not a baby anymore!  Booo!)  she is still growing and changing so much I just wanted to write a few things down.  I just can't believe she hit the 2 1/2 mark this week.
The picture above is just her.  Her personality is one I can hardly put into words.  She is so sassy, yet the sweetest little girl in the world.  She is silly and loving, smart and sensitive, polite and has empathy for others.  She is just the best daughter and I am so proud of her.
But mostly right now... she's 2!  And let me tell you what they say about that age is true... "terrible twos."  Oh my word.
Let me tell you about the temper tantrums.  The "I DO IT!!!!!" and me wanting to pull my hair out because she insists on putting on her own clothes, socks, shoes, coat, hat, etc (do you see a pattern here?) all when we are late getting somewhere and she will not have it any other way.  She will literally unzip her coat, and take it off, just so SHE can put it back on herself.  If I try to put her shoes on she will take them off and put them back on herself.  There will be a full on meltdown during this process.  Throwing herself on the floor, literally kicking and screaming.  It's pleasant.  Ha!
She loves standing here on a step stool and playing with the jewelry on her dresser.  She will stand here forever and do this.
And the stubborness- she's from a long line of it on both sides!  We are at the phase where she will refuse to wear something, and insist on something else.  She insists on wearing her Sofia pj's that are way too light-weight for this time of year.  She'd rather freeze than give in.  And I can forget trying to have her put a sweatshirt on over the top of them.  Or wear slippers.  She changes her clothes, jammies and/or princess dresses 83 times a day.  Pulls everything out of her drawers and strings clothes all over her room.  And I am slowly learning to pick my battles with this girl.  My little drama queen.  This is new territory for me, as Andrew never cared what I put on him (still doesn't).  She would wear a princess dress everyday, and to Walmart if she had her way.  
Honestly, most of the time she's just like this.  A little dolly.  A girly girl who loves to dress up and loves everything princess.  If you tell her to smile like a princess, she will usually comply.  Pretty much anything I want her to do, if I can relate it to princesses, she will give in- ha!  The other day she wanted to have a princess tea party with me in her room.  We were downstairs and she took my hand, dragged me upstairs and went running through the hall, arms spread out, yelling "Come ON mom!  It will be an adventure!!!!!"  Where does she come up with this stuff?  Thank you, Sofia the First.
I remember when Andrew was about her age and I was so into everything "boy."  I thought the "boy" characters at Disney were more fun, the boy toys were more fun to buy, I just wasn't into the girly princess thing at all.
Ask me now!  I cannot get enough of it. 
I am just buying into this whole princess thing and Kerigan is just eating it up.  She is obsessed with all of them, their movies, and right now Sofia the First is her most favorite.  It is the only show that she is glued to from beginning to end.  I also love that show!  I think Sofia is the sweetest little girl and the show has such a good lesson to learn.  I seriously say all the time that I think Kerigan is as sweet and polite as she is because she watches that show!  She always says please and thank you, and just has an overall polite demeanor.  If she does something wrong she will say "oh!  I'm sorry mommy."  It is just precious.
Probably the thing she loves most is playing in her room.  She has a princess CD that she loves to put in and dance to with her dolls.  Often when I walk in on her she's doing something like this!  Ha!  She loves digging out her princess dresses, shoes and jewelry and looking at herself in the mirror.  This will entertain her for hours.  She gets out her wands and just spins around and sings her little heart out.
She is so motherly, too, and rocks her babies and puts them "night night."  She will have several of them laying on the floor covered with a blanket, one in the cradle, and bed and she will shut the lights and the door and tell me "Shhhh, babies are sleeeeeping mommy."
Another thing she loves to do right now is read.  She just loves books, especially her princess ones and familiar ones I read to her a lot.  She will sit on the floor in her room with a huge pile of books around her and "read" every single one.  She has many of them memorized and will say a lot of the words right and I just think it is the cutest thing ever!  This is one of my favorite videos of her reading a favorite book "Ladybug Girl."
I just can't believe how fast she's growing up.  We decided since we are working on going potty that she was ready for a big girl bed.  So she "helped" daddy put it up on Thanksgiving Day (one of the very few days Daddy actually has off and was home to do it!)
She was so excited and felt so grown up.
I have had her bedding since she was born.  I had loved this set from Pottery Barn and instead of buying a crib size quilt I went with a full so she could use it longer and I am so glad I did that.  Now I am ready to get going on painting and redoing her room.  I will call it my winter project but we'll see how far I get!
She wanted to snuggle in right away and she takes her bitty baby to bed with her every night.
And speaking of going potty... doesn't every girl bring purses and pretties in the bathroom with them?  Ha!  I swore she'd have mastered this last summer.  She's been ready for so long.  We are in the midst of it.  I'd say she is in pull ups most of the day and stays dry.  But she is still having some accidents and I'm not really pushing her.
Let's do this potty thing!!  Ha!  She loves all her girly big girl panties though.  I am hoping soon she will just decide she wants to wear them all the time.  Some days she will throw that temper tantrum and insist on wearing them, but she hasn't kept them clean yet!  And we've been battling a little bit about going potty because she wants to do it on her terms.  And often it's too late.  When we are pulling her pants down, Sometimes I will do it so she can sit on the potty faster, and she will actually pull them all the way back up just so she can pull them down herself.  Same thing with pulling them up.  Oh Lord help me.
Unfortunately, she is also getting out of the napping phase, although she still definitely needs one (refer to the temper tantrums above)... they are magnified when this girl hasn't napped.  But let me tell you, when we are home together our nap routine goes a little something like this:
Finish lunch
Play for a little while until she starts rubbing her eyes
Go potty
Read story, turn on music, kisses, shut the door
30 seconds later... door opens.
I put her back, kiss her.  Shut door.
30 seconds... door opens.
Repeat about 5-6 more times before I get frustrated.
Try to lay with her.  She giggles, asks if she can rub my back, etc.
Before I fall asleep myself, we get in the car.
Drive around town for 30 minutes or so.
She falls asleep in car.
After 10-15 min we go back home and I take her up to bed.
90% of the time she stays asleep (this % has gotten lower the last month or so, we are down to about 20% now.  Not much!).
And by this time, about 2 hours have passed, which is the length of time of her nap anyway.  And there went my 2 hours of freedom to work on the house, clean, or get anything done.  Ha!

Besides potty training, reading books, giving up her naps and getting a new big girl bed, my sweet girl had her first real sleepover with friends the other night!  My sweet friend Gwyn took her to stay with her 2 girls Grace and Sophia (which Kerigan was thrilled about because I think she thought she was with Sofia the First! Ha!)  They had such a good time.  They were eating popcorn and watching Cinderella.  They all slept in the same room together and she actually slept all night!
My sweet daughter.  There are no other words to say but that you are GROWING UP.  That has become more and more obvious these past few months.  It is amazing to watch you grow and change and communicate more and more.  You practically have the vocabulary of an adult, and the things you say just amaze us.  Everyone who meets you thinks you are at least 3.  You are wise beyond your years.  One smart cookie.  It is an honor for me to be your mommy, and get to watch you grow up right before my eyes.  Our days together are full.  Sometimes frustrating and chaotic, extremely busy and exhausting.  But never without joy.  Your joyful spirit is what keeps me going.  And I thank God for you every single day.

And just for fun... do you think someone looks just a little bit like her mama??

I was 3 in this picture, and I think the resemblance is just amazing.  If her hair was just a little longer and our eyes are not the same color but I'm pretty sure other than that she is my mini me!

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