Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Visually Stunning ...

As of last Friday, our family has officially checked off the final item on our NICU Discharge List. Three and a half years. That's how long it's taken our family to no longer be under the NICU Black Cloud. Well, emotionally, I'm not sure if we'll ever be out from under it. But officially? Check. Bea dressed up for the occasion:
The accessorizing? I just... I just can't even deal...
Friday, Busy Bea and I spent the day having her first ophthalmologist visit, for a follow-up to check for a condition known as Retinopathy of Prematurity or ROP. Bea's birth weight (if you'll recall, was sub-kilo) and her gestational age, plus her need for a small amount of supplemental oxygen during her NICU stay put her at a fairly moderate risk for developing the condition. Since it can lead to blindness (example: Stevie Wonder), we were eager to get all clear. Because we're so very fortunate to live in an area that's rich with resources and medical care options, we took Beatrice Kate to see one of the best pediatric eye doctors in the nation. Turns out... it was a bit of overkill. But we'll get to that ...
I wasn't sure at first how well Bea would cooperate with the whole "read these symbols so we can check your vision" test. She is, after all, three and a half, and former preemie or not, she's still all sassitude these days and I never know which mood she'll be in. Thankfully, she was willing to be accommodating, at least at first:
You guys. She looked SO tiny in that big ol' chair. She's so mature-acting these days, that sometimes I forget she's just a teeny, tiny little thing. But this? This brought it right back home:
Bea did okay on the symbol test. But since her vision was testing at 20/100, I was guessing that her lack of enthusiasm for being there was influencing things a bit:
Thankfully, the nurse finally got the memo that to get a preschooler to engage, it's usually best to create a game out of the situation. And since my kid loves nothing more than her love for Dress-Up, the next rounds of tests went much better as she was checked for color blindness:
Funny Glasses? Okay, I'm in.
 And her depth perception was also tested:
Duke is a teaching hospital, so before we saw THE doctor, we first spent some time with her Fellow. He was a SUPER nice guy, who tried everything in his power to make things more interesting for Bea; including pulling out the Big Guns... The mechanical puppies:
But she wasn't impressed:
Again, Bea's patience was waning and though she was willing to repeat the vision test, she wasn't excited about it. This time, the Fellow used the more traditional Letter System, and Bea quickly grew exasperated at having to read letters over and over and just started memorizing them (sounds familiar, huh?) I mean, you guys, this is SO beneath her abilities apparently:
She's saying: I already said. B, E, Z, K, R. 
Even though she was Sooooooo Totally Bored, her vision actually tested at 20/15 and she won the Fellow over with her astute knowledge of the alphabet.

I was equal parts Proud Mommy for her knowing all her letters and embarrassed for how un-apologetically Know-It-All she was being. Moving on. The Fellow also took a quick peek at the anatomy of her eye. I love how incredibly studious and serious Beatrice Kate's face was during this one:
She's either giving this guy the Stink Eye or she's trying to figure out how that machine works ...
And because the whole point of the visit was to look at her retinas, Bea had to have her eyes dilated. Which. Was. Hilarious:
I couldn't believe how still she sat through getting the drops put in her eyes, but she didn't move a muscle. The drops were very fast acting and within minutes Bea was telling me, "Mommy, my eyes feel rough" and the poor thing couldn't see more than a few feet in front of herself! Thankfully, THE eye doctor was ready for us by that point and after a quick exam of her retinas:
The doctor confirmed that Our Girl is officially no longer at risk for developing ROP. Bea is just about as perfect as we could hope for, which we knew already visually speaking. Her vision is perfect. Her retinas are perfect. And she has absolutely ZERO lingering effects from her prematurity or supplemental oxygen. That my friends, is why we call her a Miracle. She truly is one in a million, folks. Our child has proven over, and over again the power of prayer, and the power of modern medical science.

Naturally, we had to celebrate. With ice cream. Which Bea had a really hard time seeing and finally asked me to spoon feed it to her:
Until she got a better idea:
Whatever. She earned it.


Wednesday, October 2, 2013

This and That ...

I haven't blogged in a few days because honestly, our lives have been gloriously boring lately. Casey spent the better part of last week away at a conference in DC. He was a speaker at the World Energy Engineering Congress, and I made him swear he would send a photo of himself all dressed up. He was clearly excited to meet this request with his first (and likely only) ever Selfie:
Because I am on call for a birth, I had to have a plan for Beatrice Kate. Her paternal grandparents rallied together to help form this plan and so from Tuesday through Saturday, Bea spent the week being doted on and waited on hand and foot by both sets of Casey's parents. The expected G-tox fallout wasn't nearly as epic as I thought it would be, but still; it's been a rough reintegration.

While they were both away last week, I used the time to clean the house from top to bottom and make a ton of 'freezer meals' for them to eat while I'm away at births over the next two months. I think the total number of meals is somewhere in the 12-15 range, and they're all whole food, paleo-ish dishes:
Both Casey and Bea returned home on Saturday. And, if I'm being really honest... I was SO ready for them to come home. By about Thursday, I was so bored and the house was just waaaaaaay to quiet. Cooper and Bea both remedied that quickly on Sunday morning though with a loud, confident 7 a.m. wake-up call:
That quickly turned into "Can we plan horns?":
 This was fun. For about 3 minutes:

Following that, we spent nearly 5 hours at "Bea's Museum". For the first time ever, she was interested (and not freaked-the-freak-out) in the mist exhibits:
And even ventured into the Mist Gardens for a play sesh:
 You can see though, why it usually freaks her out. It can get quite misty:
The real draw of the day though? For Beatrice Kate, it had to be the fact that the Museum Cafe finally! had fried okra. She's been patiently waiting all summer for it to return to the menu:
I'm estimating she ate between 2 and 3 cups of okra. And that's not an exaggeration. The kid loves it.

Anyway, the Fall Crazy is about to be officially on us, so I'm sure I'll have lots and lots of fodder for the blog. Or I'll be too busy to write.


Friday, September 20, 2013

Friday Randoms ...

**I never blogged about it, but last week Casey and I had our first Date Night Out in over 6 months. That's just sad. One of our favorite neighborhood teens babysat Bea and headed over to the Museum of Life and Science for The Science of Beer:
When Bea found out we went to the Museum without her (which, btw, she calls "her museum") she was utterly offended and said, "You went BY YOURSELVES?!?" Yes, yes we sure did:
And we drank beer while doing it. So there.
 Though, clearly, Casey shouldn't be allowed in unsupervised:
**Bea's dance class re-started two weeks ago too. We decided to move her up to the "older" kids class (4 and 5 year olds), and it's a little trickier for her and the age difference absolutley shows. But she's hanging in there and doing really well. I see her practicing her moves each week after class:
**I have a really, really busy fall coming up and have been working hard in my current Off Call Time to get our house organized so it can run more smoothly when I'm away at long births. One of the things I've tried to do is get a central "command center" put up with our family calendar, meal plans, house chores and a cork board for important papers. I asked Casey to install the cork board a few nights ago and he spent nearly 2 hours on the project. You know, getting it juuuuuuuust right:

**This fall, I'm spending Thursday mornings in a Women's Bible Study Group at a church here in Durham. No it's not Moravian. But it is an incredible group of women (70!) all studying the story of Ruth and Naomi and it's been incredible. I'm so thankful to my friends Ali and Kathy for inviting me to join in.

**I looked back in my backseat on the way to school on Tuesday and this was what I saw:
She's too cool for preschool, I guess ...

**Next week, Casey is leaving us to go and speak about his work to a national conference in Washington DC. Bea is spending the week at her Grandpa and Grandpa Jan's house (Casey's dad and step mom). I'll be spending the week sleeping and watching what I want to on TV, maybe get a pedicure and a haircut catching up on work and waiting on a baby.

**And finally, a little video of You Know Who dancing like a fool to Outkast (yes, seriously) at Jimmy Johns a few weeks ago after Church:
I can't remember if I've told you all about her love for Jimmy Johns' yet or not. She loves it so much that we can't even say the words anymore around her or she goes BANANAS for a sandwich. Seriously. So, instead, we call it "James Johnathan's". And the eyes closed dancing? She does that when she really, really, really loves what she's eating. It's hysterical.


Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Cultivating the Sense of Wonder ...

I make no claims about being a perfect parent. But, if there's one thing I feel that Casey and I have done right, so far, it's the fact that we've worked very hard to help Beatrice Kate cultivate and foster a sense of wonder about the world around her:
We're those parents. You know the ones. We limit television time to a very bare minimum. She has little to no toys which require batteries. Most of her belongings are made from wood or cloth and have very few plastic parts. We take the time to explain processes and answer her questions as fully as we can and it can take a very, very, very long time to get an explanation she deems adequate.

Go ahead and take a few minutes to get in a good eye roll. It's okay, we're used to it. It's challenging at times, I'll admit. How we've chosen to parent Beatrice Kate is often incredibly time consuming and yes, it would be a lot easier to do things differently sometimes (especially when she gets on a "Why" kick!). Let me be clear: I am in no way judging other parents and their styles. How you choose to parent is your right, and differences among families are a good thing. For us, our family, this is what works. As Bea's parents, we feel like it's our responsibility to help her make connections and leaps between Point A and Point B and to encourage her explorations into her world.
And the "payoff"? You guys it's incredible. She's so thoughtful and inquisitive. She's insightful and imaginative.
During last weekend's camping trip, I feel like we hit on something really special. We didn't bring a single toy, shut down all electronics (aside from my camera of course), and let Beatrice Kate create her own entertainment. She wasn't disappointed in the least. Every time I stood back to watch her, I was blown away by her creativity.

During the span of two days, Bea and Livvy built upon their Sense of Wonder:
Beatrice Kate pretended to be a hawk:

A salamander:
A pirate (of course):
With her sword by her side and at the ready:
She and Livvy spent time as "kitties" scratching their posts:
The girls made "soup" on top of Stone Mountain:

And Bea found a tree branch "perfect for sweeping off the path":
They formed a rock band:
Emphasis on "rock":
And in general, just played with anything and everything at their disposal. Even if that meant braving ice cold water temperatures for some splash time:

More than anything though, Casey and I were simply so proud of our girl's clear preference for The Great Outdoors and hope it helps her live her life intentionally someday:
 And we truly believe that if we do nothing else right, at least we got this one right on point:
Play, Incorporating Animistic and Magical Thinking Is Important Because It:
Fosters the healthy, creative and emotional growth of a child;
Forms the best foundation for later intellectual growth.
Provides a way in which children get to know the world and creates possibilities for different ways of responding to it.
Fosters empathy and wonder...

By suggestion and example, I believe children can be helped to hear the many voices about them.  Take Time to listen and talk about the voices of the earth and what they mean—the majestic voice of thunder, the winds, the sound of surf or flowing streams.
~Rachel Carson, A Sense of Wonder