And What A Year It Was

Hard to believe, but we have bid adieu to the year 2010.  And what a year it was.  I began the year in a grief-stricken haze.. having lost my mother in late November of ’09, and then losing my beloved grandmother in early February of 2010.  The haze hung around for several months – slowly transforming into the dull ache of loss that is now, and forever will be, imprinted in my heart. 
Somewhere outside of the haze, however, the earth continued revolving and life marched on. It’s a little disconcerting how that happens.  Your world is rocked and you feel like only a shell of the person you were not long before.. but you are forced to continue plodding forward.   
Good thing I guess, or some of us would likely still be standing in one lonely spot.
Well, life sure didn’t slow down for me.  Parenting 5 and 3 year old kids will keep you moving, whether you want to or not! 
My girls are so very amazing, fantastically-entertaining, and full of orneriness.  Maya turned 5 and entered Kindergarten this year.  I can barely believe it.  She is learning so much – I am constantly amazed by the knowledge she is gaining in just kindergarten.  Crazy!
Outside of the ‘3 R’s’, she seems to be excelling at a few extracurricular studies, such as: 
  • Slang Words 101
  • Finding Humor In Body Part Names and Excretions
  • The Power of Independent Thinking (aka: ‘It’s MY Choice!!’)
  • Beginning Drama
    • Including such important topics as: ‘He isn’t invited to my birthday party!’, ‘I will never be your friend!’, and ‘How to Properly Sing-Song The Words ‘Ha Ha HAAAAA’ While Contorting Your Neck, Hips, and Facial Features To Convey Complete Meaning’
Yes, it has been quite a year of new experiences.  Maya is attending a new school, and has found a best friend and .. fiancé? – Garrett.  I was told a few days ago that she and Garrett are going to live together someday, so they will be getting married.  I’m glad she is holding onto traditional values!
 Her major concerns have become – how to run as fast as Garrett (we bought new ‘fast’ shoes, but she still can’t catch him); how to get out of ever wearing a skirt or dress so that she can match Garrett (thankfully her school has uniforms, and I only require her to wear a skirt or dress one day per week – tho this day is always a nightmare, filled with tears and vehement negotiations); how to wear boy-clothing as much as possible (wants everything to be blue, wears boy coat, gloves, hat, backpack, etc.) 
Maya, at 5 yrs old, is one of the slowest kids ever.  She walks so slowly into and out of school from carpool, that all of the carpool helpers know our car and rush to help her in the morning.  One of them recently told me that she doesn’t know how I deal with the slooooowness.  She prays for me.   
I’ll take any help I can get!  ..though maybe she should be praying for Maya and her fast-shoes.
Maya also spends much of her time in Maya-land.  She has a VERY active imagination and can be in a conversation with you and suddenly go off into Maya-land.  She walks around talking to her imaginery friends (who are actual friends in real world – such as Garrett and Raina, etc) quite often.  Reads them books, makes them food, hosts parties.  It is hilarious!  We are very happy she can entertain herself, but hope that she doesn’t get too lost in this world! 

Maya’s Best of 2010:

Color:  Anything and Everything Blue
TV Show:  Caillou
Movie:  Alvin & The Chipmunks (the original – NOT, god forbid, the sequel.. or ‘squeak-uel’ that they call it)
Line:  ‘My tail isn’t bushy ‘til 9 am!’  (from Alvin.  For awhile her line was ‘Slam it, sexy!’.. which in actuality was ‘Clam it, Sudsy!’ .. she got the words a bit incorrect.. – again from Alvin movie.  That one was disconcerting and took me quite some time to decipher and pinpoint the origin!!)
Amusing Anecdote:  I recently took Maya to see a rheumatoid specialist due to her constant knee and toe pains (turned out to simply be very loose joints and he recommended some PT to strengthen surrounding muscles).  He asked her several questions, which she answered very seriously.  This was my fav:
Doctor:  When do you have pain? 
Maya:  When it hurts.

Food:  Chicken nuggets from Chik-Fil-A ONLY.  Noodles with sauce on the side.  Pretty much nothing that takes mom longer than 5 minutes to prepare (seriously, why do I try??)
Drink:  Propel or vanilla shakes
Ice Cream Flavor:  Vanilla or Peppermint .. or anything that Daddy is eating.
Best Friends:  Garrett, Raina, Bear-Bear, Devi
Future Occupation (in her words): Pediatric Neurosurgeon

Devika is also doing well.  We are continuing to work with her Sensory Processing Disorder challenges, but she is making progress.  Her verbal skills are continuing to improve, which is helpful.   She is gaining some social skills, though this still needs work.  She is in an IEP program preschool, which I believe has helped her with these skills.  It is slow, but I’ve recently seen her actually say hello to a child at a playplace and ask the child’s name.  She also tried to play with a friend who was visiting our house recently – chasing her and calling her name.  Whoohoo!

I have been worrying about her at school, though.  Her preschool class is ages 2 ½ - 5.. and she is absolutely the youngest (developmentally) child in the class.  The other kids sometimes make fun of her or make comments about her behavior.. I’ve heard this when picking her up from school.  While she is clueless right now, it still hurts my heart a bit to hear this.  Aj and I have actually made the decision, just tonight, to pull her out of school.  Our main reason is that her schedule is insane right now and too much for ME, much less a 3-yr old.  She is currently in school (2 1/2 hrs) on Mon/Tues/Thurs.. and in therapy (see next paragraph!) on Wed/Fri/Sat.  It's a bit extreme I think.. and I would like to see if she improves with a lesser schedule.  

We are very blessed to live within travel distance of the Star Center in Denver, CO.  This center is a clinic that focuses solely on SPD (Sensory Processing Disorder).  Devi began, a few weeks ago, a 10-week intense therapy regimen that we are very excited about.  The regimen also includes parent education (as well as requires one parent to take part in every therapy session – which are held 3x/week).  I cannot tell you how excited I am about this program!!  The Star Center is the only clinic of its type in the world – and people travel there from many different countries.   We saw a family last week who were staying here for 10 weeks – far from their home in Australia.

In just our few weeks at the Star Center, I am extremely impressed.  Devi has had local gov’t funded occupational therapy for the past 1 ½ yrs, but it was far from the level of care she is now receiving at Star.  I’m not bashing the local care.. as obviously this is like the difference between a general practitioner MD and a cardiologist.  The Star Center was founded by the doctor who ‘discovered’ and began the research on SPD – approximately 30 years ago.  If you are interested in this topic at all, take a look at their website.  They have a vast array of information and resources given/listed/linked-to on their site.  It is very informative.  Again, I just cannot say enough about how lucky we are to be able to send Devi through their program!!  They have already seen things in her behavior and given us tips to help her that are/were entirely new to us.  Just today we had our first ‘parent education’ meeting and are armed with new strategies to work on at home.  Yay!

Other updates about Devi..  she still has zillions of tantrums (tho we are learning how to work through them), is terrified of loud noises (tho she also seeks them out) and exhibits many unsafe behaviors – all which we are told are stemming from the SPD challenges.  I greatly appreciated her therapist telling us today that everything she has seen from Devika through her therapy sessions is directly attributed to SPD and not behavioral issues (other than the potty training, we aren’t sure what is going on with that fully yet).

Of course, some of her behavior is attributed to the fact that she is 3 yrs old.  We completely understand this and aren’t blaming everything on a neurological problem!  God help all parents of 3-yr olds!!  Maya was horrid at 3 also.  That was when her hitting phase seemed to peak.  Criminy, I thought I would die of humiliation and frustration before THAT lovely phase ended.  Phew.  So I see light at the end of the tunnel.. and am very much looking forward to Devika’s 4th birthday (which will be in August.  Yikes.)   I can say that we are very, very lucky that Devi is a very happy child.  She does not act out in frustration/anger very often – she is always smiling and laughing.   Of course that is a double-edged sword in that she does not seem to understand consequences at all.. nothing phases her.. everything is funny.

Devi’s physical health has been pretty good.  She eats well, but is still very lactose intolerant.  I have a future appmt made with a GI specialist at Children’s Hospital to evaluate this.. as well as the fact that she still is not gaining as much weight/growing as well as her pediatrician would like to see.  She’s still holding at about 20 lbs.  She HAS grown, however, so I’m not as paranoid about this issue as I was at this time last year.
Other than that, Devika is a smart and very entertaining child!  She is absolutely adorable.  She has the cutest run lately – it is a cross between a run while kicking her legs up behind her, and a fast hip-swaying dance.   Hysterical!  She still loves to hug and kiss, and has taken up singing songs.  She still has that flat toddler-singing-tone, as well as her norm deep voice, so her singing voice is somewhat painful and extremely cute.

Devika’s Best of 2010:

Color:  Pink or Orange.  Not that she particularly LIKES these colors – but she still does not seem to have the ability to label colors and calls everything ‘pink’ or ‘orange’.  She knows all the color names, but she cannot tell you what color something is.  This color issue of hers is another thing that we will be examining through her Star Center therapy program.  No one is quite sure what is up with this.  Could she be color-blind?  She also has a vision appmt at Children’s Hospital next month.
TV Show:  Caillou (lucky us, eh?  Eek)
Movie:  Alvin and the Chipmunks (yes, you can see some Maya-idolism here, right? J)
  • Anything she can repeat after Maya.
  • “I LIKE STINKY CHEESE!  I LIKE STINKY CHEESE!” (don’t ask.. I only know that yes indeed.. she does enjoy eating stinky cheese)
  • She also has a ‘song’ (no words, just the tune) that she sometimes sings, which is a little bit appalling.. it is from Alvin & The Chipmunks and it strongly resembles music from a porn movie!!  This is the meaning behind it in the movie.. a little adult humor that my 3-yr old somehow grabbed hold of and can’t let go of.. argh!!
  • ‘Buttman’.  Devi will, often and without warning, suddenly stop what she is doing and sing ‘du du du du du du du du BUTTMAN!’.  Granted she is trying to say ‘Batman’.. but she cannot pronounce it correctly yet.   
Food:  Chicken Nuggets, noodles with butter, grapes, or anything pureed that she can spread all over her body and hair while she eats. 
Drink:  Propel (my dad has caused my girls to become propel-addicts!) or juice. 
Best Friends:  Lovey (which is a turtle-shaped cloth book), Blankie, Maya
Favorite Clothing:  Pajamas
Future Occupation:  maybe a famous female soccer player?  The girl has got some amazing athletic talent!  Can’t wait to put her in soccer this summer.

So that’s a little update on my babies! 

Everything else in life is holding steady.  I am not having much time lately for photography, though I shoot a job here and there.  Aj changed jobs recently, and does not travel as much these days.  Because of this, I am working toward changing my photo career back to weddings-only.  I so need the artistic edge that you just can’t get when shooting kids and families.  I love, love artistic photography and I miss it.  Wedding photography also gives a nice ‘rush’ and feeling of accomplishment to me.. something I haven’t found anywhere else.  The photographer who trained me, back in Cincinnati, once told me that he likened the post-wedding-shoot ‘rush’ to be equal to that of a cocaine-rush.  As I have never dabbled in that level of recreational drug (I’ll stick with occasional vino and lots of caffeine!), I will take his word for it. 
Whatever it is – I miss it.

So there you have it I guess.  Farewell to 2010 and a look forward to 2011. 
May this new year bring health and prosperity to all of you.. and to my family.  My siblings have dealt with some major illnesses, surgeries, etc lately – and we need to move on to a healthy year!  Oh, I guess that also includes me.. as I had knee surgery last month to repair some torn cartilage and damage caused by arthritis (how in the #%^# am I old enough to have arthritis damage??).  I am very excited to report that just this past week I have been able to go up and down stairs without major pain.. and am no longer limping!!  I had been in quite a bit of pain since the injury in mid-September.  My big goal for 2011 was to run again, and yesterday I ran (slowly) my first mile!! 
Happy New Year!!

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