Sunday, March 11, 2012

The March 2012 Post

Maddy Smothering Milo - as usual. December 2011

It's been a while, and much has happened since the last post back in December before Christmas. In a nutshell, lots of sickness (cold & flu); a major scare (Milo was tested for cystic fibrosis); and we had some good times too.

Some of you may have already seen my post on Facebook, but a couple weeks back the kids had to head to the pulmonologist for another check-up. They weighed Milo and he came in pretty light -- still under 30 lbs., where he's been hovering for a while now. He seems to eat well, and that fact combined with his size and some of the coughing issues he has lead the doc to want to test for cystic. Elaine and I felt pretty sure that wasn't likely, but I have to admit as the days went on it started to feel like it made more and more sense. Of course, from there I did the inevitable research and learned just what an awful disease cystic is. Luckily, the drama ended pretty quickly -- we were able to get the boy tested early the following week and he came back a resounding negative. It was definitely a big relief, and it's solidified my feeling that my kids, along with all preemies, have more than paid their dues and are owed a free pass on every other shitty, life-threatening disease out there. Who's with me?

In other testing news, we also just received the results of Milo's latest speech testing. The results were a bit troubling, though not completely unsurprising. By comparison, Maddy is definitely more verbal than Milo and has an easier time with language in general. With all of the budget cutting and limitations on special education services, it's sometimes hard to know whether the results of testing are completely legit, or whether the evaluator might have massaged the numbers on your child to ensure a result of at least a 30 percent delay. As it turns out, 30 percent is, more or less, the magic number to qualify a child for special education services. In this case, Milo came back around 37% delayed in several areas of speech (receptive language, expressive language, and symbolic play). Though his articulation (speech production skills) was actually quite advanced - he tested at the 5-year-old level in that area. We haven't had a chance to discuss the results yet with the therapist, so it's hard to know exactly what it means right now. Ont he plus side, his teachers seem very happy with his progress. Hopefully there's a big break through around the corner - there usually is.

The Run Up to the Holidays

M&M at dance class - December 2011

As most of you know, the kids love music and dancing. We figured it would be nice to enroll them in some kind of dance class. Poor Milo. Even here in the Bay Area, he was the only dude in the room. The class was supposed to be a dance and movement class, so we figured it would be fine for a boy and it basically was. He had a great time, and while M&M were clearly the boldest and (if I may say so) the most gifted dancers in the room, they were also pretty chaotic and hard to control. That's the price of their gift of dance I guess. On the final day, they were supposed to do a recital but for some reason Milo decided he wanted nothing to do with it so he and I spent the session outside on the playground with Dad. From what I gather, teaching 3-year-olds to dance is better left to the pros.

This being the kids 4th Christmas and the first that really seemed to click, I took every opportunity to use the old cliche of Santa as a omniscient deity who was always watching and ready to impose charcoal for any act of misbehavior. Maddy still occasionally reminds me (as recently as today in fact) that "Santa is always watching." So it was a special treat when the big guy himself paid a visit to our neighbor's house a few weeks before the big day. The kids were completely impressed and not at all frightened. I'm glad to report that neither peed on his lap - which was nice for him.

Maddy & Daddy Ride the Giant Slide at the Six Flags Great American/49ers Holiday Party

We also discovered that the kids love giant slides more than just about anything else, except maybe a giant bouncy house. Through a stroke of luck, we managed to get invited to a big holiday party the San Francisco 49ers put on for service members and their family. M&M spotted the giant slide, and after one trip Maddy had decided that this was her new purpose in life. Milo was almost as enamoured with the thing.

M&M and Mom - Christmas Eve 2011

We did the whole program this year, including cookies for Santa and carrots for the reindeer. We even bought the matching jammies.

Of course, Grandpa was on hand for this year too.

In case you haven't detected the theme, Milo is pretty into fire trucks and firemen. His final present was a pretty sweet vintage fire truck I found for him. This thing was straight out of the 50's - made of heavy metal and sharp edges all over! I'm not even sure how this thing manages to get to market in the current age of safety recalls. I'm sure this truck will be around for years to come. Definitely built to last!

All in all, a great Christmas...

Amusement Parks - the Next Frontier

Maddy & Grandpa - Happy Hollow, San Jose December 2011

One of the things I've enjoyed most about the kids becoming 3-year-olds is their new found love of amusement parks. Sure, they liked the zoo when they were in their twos, and they've liked going to playgrounds for a couple years now. Still, it's only recently that Milo was willing to get on a merry-go-round. But these days they love rides in a big way!

By the way, I think I've mentioned it before, but if you have kids age 3 to about 9 or 10, Happy Hollow is about the best park I've been to. They give a substantial discount to folks with Oakland Zoo memberships and parking is free (or seriously reduced) for military. Really nice place!

Milo finishing one a dozen (or more) trips down the massive slide at Happy Hollow.

Maddy takes one of her first roller coaster rides with Grandpa at Happy Hollow.

One of the most impressive moments came when M&M spotted a mini roller coaster and demanded to "ride the train." And ride they did... The moment the roller coaster would pull in, the kids would jump off and sprint around to the entrance again to score another ride. I'm sure we'd still be there now if we didn't eventually carry them away.

Milo goes with Dad for his first roller coaster ride.

Milo conquers his fears and tames the merry-go-round in impressive fashion.

M&M at their first swimming lesson. Jan. 15, 2012

We've wanted to get the kids into swimming for a while, and we finally managed to get them going this past January. Despite a well heated pool, poor Milo was still shivering with bluish lips after the first lesson. He is one skinny boy. Maddy kept a bit warmer, but we ended getting toddler wetsuits for them both. It's pretty amazing to see how independent they are now; before the start of each lesson they have to walk around the pool to their station and line up along the wall and wait a couple minutes patiently while the other lesson finishes. If only we could get that kind of compliance at home. Well, with any luck they'll be swimming like champs by summer just in time to try out some whitewater boating.

Maddy kickin' it old school at home. February 4, 2012.

Milo relaxes on the throne and contemplates an episode of Yo Gabba Gabba. I know what you're thinking, "Rob, you really shouldn't let him watch so much TV." True, but in my defense he spends most of his time on the potty staring at Elaine's copies of the New Yorker. Sure, it's not the Economist, but it's impressive nonetheless.

Maddy climbs on a giant fiber glass whale in front of the Lawrence Hall of Science, Berkeley, Feb. 2012.

Milo, Maddy (under Milo), & Mom having fun on the slides. The kids' friend Chris is coming down just behind Elaine. January 2012.

The kids other favorite pass time, digging in the dirt. Luckily, we managed to find the one stretch of grass in the Bay Area that isn't choked with the poo from Canada Geese (the most vile and hated of all water fowl).

M&M on their first trip to Monterey Aquarium, March 2012.

If you follow the blog, you probably recognize the wooden lion Maddy is sitting on above. I seem to include a picture or two of them sitting on the thing every few months. It's located in the visitor's center at Tilden Park near the petting zoo. Great place and completely free - that means we go there a lot. You just can't beat free. What can I say? It's hard to resist taking a picture of your kid on a big wooden lion.

M&M hanging out together at the park down the street.

Probably my favorite shots of Maddy. Amy, our baby sitter, snapped this one a few weeks back.

Milo takes us out.