Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Onward & Upward

Yesterday, Caitlin graduated from Kindergarten in a very cute ceremony. She wore a cap & gown, shook the principal's hand, hugged her teacher and received her certificate. She sang the chorus of "We Are the World" in Spanish, with her classmates. She listened to both her mom and the principal talk about memories and achievements. She was so excited, yet so composed. She was such of a big girl, ready for 1st grade! Ben & I have been so very impressed with Caitlin this year. Never in our wildest dreams did we think that she would do so well academically and socially. We will have our hands full keeping her busy and helping her to both retain all that she's mastered this year (2nd grade math level & 3rd grade reading level) and learn new skills this summer.

Caitlin--walking off the stage after receiving her certificate. Please excuse the poor picture quality. The lighting was horrible in the gym. We will be receiving professional quality shots in another week or so.

Caitlin and her wonderfully sweet teacher, Ms. Brock. Caitlin just loved her and she was a great Kindergarten teacher, always caring, creative and challenging her students.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

(Big) Girls Day Out

Caitlin & I just got back from a wonderful afternoon, just Mommy & Caitlin. It's been quite a while since she & I have spent some quality time and we decided, that with the beautiful weather, we should head downtown to hang out. We started with lunch @ Starbuck's (and yes, Caitlin chose to go there), where Caitlin had Greek yogurt w/ honey and granola & a blueberry muffin. I had one of Starbuck's English muffin sandwiches (they are SOOO good) & a green tea
Frappuccino. From there, we took a short jet down the interstate to the light rail station where we hopped the train to Union Station and walked the block and a half to Tattered Cover. A little birdie told Ben that I needed new reads, so he obliged with a gift card for me, for Mother's Day. I snatched up another Jodi Picoult book (yes, I believe I'm addicted) and Three Cups of Tea, the latest issues of Real Simple magazine and treated Caitlin to two new chapters books (my 5 1/2 year old is reading chapter books-*gasp*). Not quite ready to end our day out, we went further into LoDo in search of some ice cream. We happened upon Gellazzi, a local joint that serves up wonderfully homemade & fresh gelato. Caitlin had a mixture of soy chocolate and raspberry while I enjoyed a piccolo cup of wildberry. We sat alfresco, enjoying our treat and the wonderful sunshine & gentle breeze. With our bellies full, we began our very leisurely walk back to the light rail station. Caitlin stopped to pose with some buffaloes and dance among the squares. Once on the train, we read a chapter in one of her newest books and enjoyed the sights on the ride home. We thoroughly enjoyed ourselves and hope to have many more days out together. It is so fun to have someone to do "big girl" things with even though she's growing up too darn fast!

Caitlin dances on one of the "squares".

Enjoying her soy chocolate & fresh raspberry gelato.

On the light rail, heading downtown for an afternoon of fun with Mommy!

Sitting in a "grown up" chair at Starbuck's.

Cara Lou is a Preschool Girl

From toddler to preschooler in one fast motion. Cara had her 1st IEP facilitation meeting on Wednesday with Child Find through our local school district. We met previously to do the evaluation to asses Cara's needs.

At the facilitation, I learned that Cara qualifies for 4 1/2 day (about 3 hours/day) sessions of preschool at the child development center in our district. She will be in a classroom with 15 other students, half of whom are "typical" and the other half who are receiving some sort of special education. Cara will be receiving physical/occupational, speech and cognitive special education therapies, to the tune of about 3-4 hours a week. The therapists work with students in the classroom setting so that no child feels excluded or "different". In addition, vision therapist and assisted technology will consult with her teachers and therapist to make their recommendations regarding visual safety concerns and the possible need of a low-technology assistance device to help Cara communicate with her teachers & peers.

The program sounds like a perfect mix for Cara--both student & teacher led activities and a structured daily routine. The ratio is never more than 16:2 and is usually 16:3 or 16:4 due to various therapists, volunteers & parents being in the classroom.

I will be doing the actual registration in a couple of weeks, and I'm sure a few tears will be shed as I fully face the reality that my baby is growing up. I just know that she'll love preschool as she is a social child and loves doing activities. In fact, she often wants to stay with Caitlin at drop-off and join her big sister's Kindergarten class. It will be hard for me to trust others in caring for Cara as she has been darn-nearly glued to my side for almost 3 years. Adjustments, and a lot of them, are coming our way soon. I have a feeling that Cara will adapt very well and I will be the one having issues!

Taking a Deep Breath

***big sigh**

We can all breathe a bit easier now. Cara's primary care doctor called on Wednesday to tell us the results of Cara's echocardiogram. The results stated that, "Everything is completely normal. Cara has a very strong and healthy heart." Yay! Not that we *really* doubted that, but it was so wonderful to have professional medical clearance.

I'm curious to see what this means for genetics since Cara has tested negative for every test they've done so far. I think we may just have them halt the exploration process all together. We are very happy with Cara, just as she is, and now, we know that she does not have any major genetic conditions nor heart malformations. Other than her hydrocephalus (which is hardly even a factor given her well-performing shunt *knock on wood*) and some global delays, Cara is a happy, healthy and bubbly little girl. We feel so very lucky!

*deep breath**

Thursday, May 07, 2009

Echocardiogram 5/4/09

Once again, we were at Children's Hospital this week as Cara had an echocardiogram scheduled for Monday morning. The reason for the ECG is two-fold:
-Her geneticist wanted it done as part of the genetic testing they are doing in an attempt to properly determine the case of Cara's hydrocephalus as well as the appearance of her cafe-au-lait spots. Apparently, many genetic conditions have cardiac issues attached to them. Ruling out cardiac concerns helps them to narrow down the list of possible conditions.
-Her pediatrician heard a slight heart murmur during Cara's annual exam last month and is anxiously awaiting the results of the ECG to see if it's anything more to be concerned about other than a murmur, which many people live with, unaffected.

We arrived and were quickly shown to a room outfitted with an ultrasound machine. The Disney Channel was playing on a TV, which provided a good initial distraction for Cara. However, once she realized that she was going to have to lay still for a long time, reinforcements were necessary, in the form of lollipops. After that, she laid very still while the technician took 80+ images of her heart from various angles. An hour later, we were done. I am really pleased with how well Cara did, without even an oral sedative.

Copies of the cardiologist's report will be sent to genetics and our pediatrician and we should receive a call or letter from genetics by next week. It only take 1-2 days for them to get the images and report but then for them to call us or notify us could take a few more days. The patient coordinator did say to call genetics next week if we haven't heard anything from them.

I do not think that there could be anything major going on or we would've either been kept after the ECG to speak with a cardiologist or genetics would have contacted us by now. So, I'm breathing a little bit easier than I did going in, but won't completely take a deep breath until we get the "all clear" from genetics. The ECG is the last step in the initial series of testing that the genetics clinic wanted to do...these tests ruling out the most significant conditions. So far, everything has come back normal (the Noonan's test, the NF1 test and the gene array). We will continue to thank our lucky stars and pray that the ECG also comes back normal.

Saturday, May 02, 2009

One More Year

You might wonder what the heck Baskin Robbins has to do with getting older but...

I officially joined the ranks of the over 30's crowd last weekend (4/25), as I marked my 31st birthday. Somethings, like wine and cheese, are better the older they get, or so I keep telling myself. I also like to kid that I've had as much variety in my life as all of those 31 flavors! Truth be told, except for the gray hair I found earlier the same week, I feel the same age now as I did when I first had children, almost 6 years ago. What can I say, my girls are helping to keep me young or maybe it's the fact that I can still play with Barbies, paint with finger paints and dress up that keeps the wrinkles at bay. All I know is, time has been good to me.

I was lucky to be able to spend my birthday with my adorable family & my wonderful parents who made the journey over from the other side of the state. We started the day off with a leisurely ride on the Light Rail to downtown Denver (LoDo) and a trip to one of my favorite eating establishments--BD's Mongolian BBQ. I even got to hit the gong a few times and watch the grillers do acrobatic feats with their metal chopsticks. From there, we walked around LoDo, taking in the sights and admiring the architecture (such a varied mix). We were right around the corner from my favorite bookstore of all time, Tattered Cover, so we just had to go in and browse. I walked out with this book, though I could've easily purchased several more. I'd love to curl up in a chair, by a window, with a cup of tea and watch the hours fly by.

A little bit of a side note: When I was in college and searching for some obscure and "crunchy" social theory texts, Tattered Cover was one of the only bookstores this side of the Mississippi who carried the books I desired. I had a very pleasant experience chatting with several employees and received recommendations for other books that might help with my research. The books arrived, wrapped in brown paper & twine, with a personal note from one of the employees who invited me to visit. I had never stepped foot in the bookstore but tried to envision it. Floors, upon floors of books on every topic, comfy leather chairs, an air of intellectual freedom. I'm happy to say that the "real thing" lived up to my visions, and more. Tattered Cover has an environment that makes you just want to sit down & stay awhile, a relaxed atmosphere that "big box" stores struggle to re-create. It is so effortless here.

Getting back on track, we left Tattered Cover, rode the Light Rail back to our Park 'n Ride station, said good-bye to my parents (as they had a 5 hour drive back to the Western Slope) and drove home.

On Sunday, after teaching my group of rowdy toddlers at church, our little clan headed out to a post-birthday lunch at TGI Friday's and then to a local shopping mall. Ben sent me off to get my hair done while he & the girls roamed the mall. Hours later, with my hair was shorter and full of wild curls, they returned armed with birthday cards and a sampling of my favorite lotions from Bath & Body Works. I was very spoiled indeed (thank you Bath & Body Works for having a great sale that weekend)!

As you get older, it's less about opening presents and more about spending time with family & friends. That said, it certainly was nice to be remembered & pampered. I got the best of both worlds that weekend and consider myself extremely lucky.


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