Sunday, January 31, 2010

Beans, Beans, Beans...

After our visit to Alex's new school yesterday....(We're signed up for Friday Parent-Child classes this spring, I'm giddy with excitement!), I was inspired to bring some new activities into our house. GrandMama helped me clean out Alex's water table, and we filled it with pinto beans. What a great sensory 'experiment'....It's kept her busy for hours!
GrandMama and Alex play 'ar key holost' and uncover animals buried in the sediment.

Alex took a break every so often to visit GrandPapa and ask "what are you doing?" The only downside of being a semi-Waldorf parent is that we are going to have to curb WAAAAY down on the movies/tv-- and here my daughter is wearing her Dorothy dress!

Saturday, January 30, 2010


While Mama, Daddy, GrandMama and GrandPapa went to check out a potential preschool (MN Wadorf School) this morning, Auntie Rorie and Uncle Willy were in charge of Little Gym.

It was Alex's first day in her "SuperBeasts" class, and both Rorie and Will reported that Alex was on top of her game. She impressed her new teacher with her bar skills (especially being strong enough to pull her feet up to the bar on her own) and enjoyed playing and meeting new friends (although apparently her ball-sharing skills can be improved, according to Auntie).

Friday, January 29, 2010

ECFE Reunion!

We headed down to Savage this morning for a playdate with our old ECFE crew. Alex had a great time playing with Mason (and baby brother Grayden), Isaiah and Sadie. Our whole gang couldn't get together this time, but hopfully we'll catch up with the rest of the kids the next time we have a 'reunion'.Alex LOVED Mason's workbench that his Grandpa made him. It was even stocked with REAL tools!!We received a hot tip that the Costco in Eden Prairie had some Hannas in stock!!! (Spring shift dresses for $14!!). So-- on the way home, Alex got to enjoy a special 'Costco treat'....mmmm

Thursday, January 28, 2010

It's been awhile...

I apologize for our recent lack of posts (scroll back a few days, and you'll see belated updates), I succumbed to the same bug that hit Alex last week-- fever, vomiting and all, and have been slowly recovering.

Here' a photo of what Alex and Daddy did on Mommy's day off..... My little Pollack in the making.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Running with the sharks

Alex was OVERJOYED to see her friend Emma today. We met for lunch after morning Bible School, and even though she was obviously bushed from a morning of learning and fun, she definitely got her second wind when she saw her friend. After a delicous lunch of mac n' cheese at Rainforest Cafe, we headed to Underwater Adventures to catch up with the sharks and rays....luckily the place was not crowded at all, so we gave the girls free reign to run and play!

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Playing with Monster

Alex and Monster enjoy playing with her Playdough. We had a nice morning at ECFE, and then decided to have some down time with Monster.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Counting Clothespins

Alex knows pretty much all of her letters, but I admit we've been lax on the numbers (perhaps because I'm an artsy type??). Today was our day to drill number recognition. Looking in my closets and cupboards, I came up with a spontaneous 'experiment' (as Alex refers to ANY activity) to do.
I found 5 plastic cups (you could also use paper plates or cardboard swatches) and labeled them 1-5, along with corresponding 'dots' on the rim. The idea was for Alex to work on both numbers AND fine motor skills by clipping clothespins to the black dots on each cup. She loved the activity so much we've done it numerous times today. After she completed each cup, we'd count the clothespin(s) together, and then trace the number with her index finger. As you can see, she's quite proud of BOTH her numbers AND mad 'clipping skills'.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Recovering slowly

Still a fever this morning, and perhaps the most lethargic I've ever seen her. Her normal wake-up time is 7am. Today I sent Dave in to check on her at 8:15. He entered to find her awake, but too weak to yell for us or walk to the door. She requested to be carried and flopped around like a rag doll until we finally got some Gatorade and dry Cheerios in her.
This afternoon we entertained ourselves with playdough for a while, then she took another 3 hour nap. Hopefully her body is repairing itself quickly and efficiently. I think we'll skip classes and playgroups tomorrow to allow her to fully heal before exposing her to any other bugs.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Down again!

Because of the steroids Alex was on a ways back, her immune system is lagging a bit. Last night, around 9:30pm we heard her screaming. Running into her room, we were first hit by the horrible wave of vomit-odor. As we switched the light on, we surveyed the damage. What a mess! I immediately decided to run and start the bath, as that was number one priority. Poor Dave wrestled a visibly shaken and scared Alex out of her soiled pjs and cleaned up the room.

We repeated this scenario three times. Finally, at about midnight Alex fell asleep ON me (a first since around three months old), exhausted. No fever, though-- so we were wondering if it was food poisioning.

The next day the fever came. We were so bummed to miss her friend Graham's 3rd birthday party. Alex refused to nap in her bedroom, but fell asleep on the couch for 3 hours. When she woke up, she said "we go to party now?". Thankfully her fever (101) was kept in check with our old friend Motrin, and we had plenty of movies for her to watch.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Pachycephalosaurus....yep, I spelled that right

We headed downtown St. Paul this morning to meet some MOMS Club of Woodbury friends at the MN Children's Museum for a playdate. Apparently EVERY other mother AND daycare in the Twin Cities decided on the same activity today, as it was the most crowded I've ever seen it.
Alex somewhat enjoyed the new dinosaur exhibit-- that is, what she could see over the tops of the throng. We have an outing here planned for next week, too-- so I didn't try to push through the crowd to see everything this time.
Alex poses in front of the pachycephalosaurus.
On our way out, we spotted the face painting station, and Alex wanted to be a "kitty with a pink nose and spots." This is her admiring herself in her bathroom mirror.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Alex's Five Senses

We started out the day with an experiment to teach/reinforce the five senses. Alex was so excited to have a formal 'lesson' that I'll have to have more planned for the upcoming weeks!

I found these mini 'tupperware' containers at the Dollar Store a few weeks ago, and they were perfect for this exercise. We have been talking about the five senses, so I decided to put 6 'unknowns' into the containers (with black constrution paper inside to mask the item) and have Alex practice using all her senses to guess what is in each container. We even made a chart to track her responses.

She LOVED smelling, listening to, tasting, touching and finally SEEING the items. We'll have to try this again with holes poked in the lid....she kept sneaking peeks while I was holding them for her to smell :-)

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

A Blissfully Uneventful Day

It seems that due to the past few weeks' craziness, I am appreciating our normal, simple days more than before. We started off with a nice breakfast, followed by a bath for Alex. She got all dressed up in her new outfit for Bible School, and after a really good no-accident morning in class, we headed to the Super Target in West St. Paul (our nearest one).We decided to have a little lunch there, and then came home, worked in the studio (Alex practiced counting the sides and angles of squares as she helped me cut fabric to start working on another quilt).
Finally, we're relaxing on the couch with the kitties watching 'Wizard of Oz' (we've got it down to one 1/2 hour viewing segment a day! Yea!!!). I guess when you look back at it, we've been busy, but it feels uneventful because she's finally herself again :-)

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Being Dorothy

This morning Alex and I attempted to go to two gyms- LifeTime (for Mommy) and Little Gym (for Alex). I only got about a 20 minute workout in because Alex had an accident in playcare (it happens), and I had extra pants, but no extra socks!! Darn my lack of planning. After a quick stop at home for some reserve footwear, we went to Alex's last Little Gym class of the semester. She surprised me today by walking on the balance beam unassisted.....guess why ? She was being 'Dorothy' (see below!) :-)

Because it was the last class of the semester, the kids had an 'award ceremony' at the end of class. Alex was SO excited to receive her participation medal!

This afternoon my daughter surprised me by taking a THREE HOUR nap (she must still be recovering from her past week), which allowed me to get a new project done-- This weekend I stopped by Wal-Mart for some Benadryl, and found the cutest sweatshirt/sweatpants combo for $9. The color combinations reminded me of Mini Boden wear, so I was inspired. Here's Alex's new "HOOT" sweatshirt (pants coming soon). She loves her Snowy Owl (and mousie) shirt!

Monday, January 18, 2010

Back to NORMAL!!!

I am breathing a huge sigh of relief. Here it is, just after noon, and I have not once seen the 'Hyde' version of my daughter's personality!! We had a very enjoyable morning-- music class, a stop at the local Creative Kidstuff to pick up a birthday present for a friend, and a long session of imaginative play before lunch. Now she's resting and relaxed in her room!!
To commemerate her penicillin-free future, we made 'Amoxicillin Pink' pancakes this morning. (OK- so that was an after-thought-- I decided to let her choose a food coloring for the pancakes and she chose red. But it works, right?) She was so excited to have pink pancakes. The batter looked too much like Pepto-Bismol for me to even think about grabbing a bite.
This afternoon we were playing with her dollhouses and animals. After setting up a 'farm', she grabbed one of her girl dolls with pigtails and proceeded to make her walk on top of the fence. It took me a minute to figure out what she was doing, but then she let the girl fall into the pigpen, and declared "Help Dorothy OUT!!" If you haven't seen the move in a while, that's a scene in the very beginning, before she sings 'Over the Rainbow'. least she's creative, right? ;-)

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Pizza Party!

Since we haven't had a FULL family playdate with the Olsons in quite some time, and the house was fairly clean because of our dinner party the previous night, we had scheduled a pizza party with Graham, Amelia, and their Mommy and Daddy. How much fun!

On an unrelated note, last night was the last DVD player night for Alex. She is starting to feel more like herself (yea!) and didn't even put up too much of a fight when we told her that movie-in-bed time was over now. We assured her that she could still use the DVD player on plane trips and long car rides. Thank goodness!
The Olsons came over in the late afternoon for some qualty play time before dinner. Our huge piece of cardboard was a hit with this crowd, too!, salad and fruit! We were so impressed with the table manners of all three kids. You can tell they're used to eating with each other-- we haven't had any 'naughty' laughing or 'entertaining' for a while, now!
Alex was sad to see her friends go home, but Auntie Carrie had stopped by earlier, so she was happy to play with her for a bit before bedtime!

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Ole Get-Together

About two months ago, we decided to host a dinner for our old Ole friends after the holiday craziness had passed. It was so fun to see everyone and catch up-- but it was more fun to see our kiddos interact.
Alex teaching Laura (Josh & Beth's little girl) how to color! I put one of our old moving boxes on the floor so the kids could just go to town.
Preston (Jake & Christina's oldest guy) and Alex take a break from the party to watch, guess what, Wizard of Oz. Alex was so thrilled to have a 'big boy' pay attention to her. At one point, they had their arms around each others' backs and declared their undying friendship :-)
Alex saying goodbye to Preston. Baby Emmett (Preston's new little brother) hung out with the adults all night long, but before long he'll be running around with the older kids, too!

Friday, January 15, 2010

Keep 'em busy!

We're slowly working our way out of the steroid cloud that has enveloped this houe for the past few days. Both Dave and I are EXTREMELY thankful for Auntie Carrie's help last night. She watched/handled Alex so that we could have a few hours respite. I desperately needed some time off!!

Today we checked in with Alex's doctors for a follow-up appointment, and got the 'ok' to discontinue the icky Prednisolol!!(Yea). According to them, she should be back to her normal self in a few more days. I can't wait.

After the doctor's appointment, I took the 'keep 'em busy' approach, and we headed to the Minnesota Zoo to meet our Prior Lake friends the Rutlands. Alex was distracted enough to have a nice morning with only three meltdowns!

This afternoon we played in the playroom for a long time. I have observed that Alex gets frustrated less easily if she's doing something kinesthetic, so we decided to bake a cake to celebrate the 'end of the strawberry medicine'.

As an extra-special treat, Grandma Mary and Papa Bob sent Alex a 'sick prize' as well-- "new jammy-jams"!! She was thrilled to open them up (and they are exactly what we need, as she is definitely sick of all her old ones at this point). Here she is, lounging in bed with her/my lifeline-- the DVD player. (Little does she know how awful video rehab will be....but we have another day or so before that time).

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Lions and Tigers and Bears, oh my!

My prior post was focused on the negatives. Here's a positive one!

When she's not collapsing in a whirlwind of angry energy, Alex is keeping us entertained by reenacting scenes from The Wizard of Oz.

Falling asleep in the poppies-- note the "Cowardly Lion" to her right. ("Huxley is Cowardly Lion. Alex is Dorothy.")

Lions and Tigers and Bears, Oh My! (followed by a short chorus of "We're off to see the Wizard")

The Tornado Scene (specifically: Dorothy realizing she needs to return home (pre-OZ) and running back from the travelling magician's wagon. She runs into the house and then hits her head, causing her to black out on the bed during the tornado.)

Do I HAVE to give her another dose?

This Prednisolone thing is the pits. Alex has undergone such a dramatic personality change while on the steroid that continuing to give her the drug (three doses left) is literally the hardest thing I've had to do as a mother. She is moody, angry, frustrated and confused as to why she's feeling this way.
I've become the parent that I SWORE I would never be-- the exact opposite of my usual parenting style as I search for 'treat' after 'treat' to placate her and get some sort of smile. Last night was particularly trying, as she was literally throwing toys and bouncing on her bed screaming at the top of her lungs. She would not be comforted-- rocked or sang to. She kept screaming to use the potty (her newest 'trick' to get out of her bedroom at night). I commented jokingly to my mom that the only thing that would potentially calm her down was The Wizard of Oz. She told me to do it! Dave and I decided that an awake but calm Alex was better than an irate, worked up one and brought the portable DVD player into her room. She settled down right away (with screams only every 15 minutes or so to re-'snuckle' (snuggle) her in, change her socks, put a new nighttime diaper on, or change her jammies...believe it or not, I considered this a HUGE improvement). My daughter fell asleep to a movie last night-- but I know that it was the only way!
She did wake up at 3:45 am, though, and was irate that the DVD player had been removed from her room. There was no calming her until I brought it back in again. She is just so uncomfortable and irritable that it helps for her to be able to be 'in control' of something. So- from 3:45am to 6:30am I played nursemaid, delivering pb & j sandwiches, orange juice, turning lights on and then off and then on again. This is SO not my typical deal, but I figure it's the steroids and not her.
I was worried that her lack of sleep would affect her behavior at Elmo Live! today. Alex and I had tickets to see the show at the Target Center around 10:30. She did nap for about 15 minutes in the car, but seemed excited and in good spirits about the prospect of seeing Elmo and Cookie Monster.
look how CLOSE we were to the stage!

In order to help her be happy, I even bought her a pennant once we arrived, and she does love it. About three songs into the performance, she decided she wanted to go home. I managed to head off a temper tantrum by telling her (about every five minutes) that when Elmo was done singing we'd get a treat and then she could decide if she wanted to go home. Intermission came, we walked around for a bit, got a lemonade, and she said she wanted to see more.

What kid wouldn't LOVE seeing these guys in person???

She was kidding. About halfway through the first song in the second act, she began declaring very loudly that she was done and wanted to go home "to watch Wizard of Oz". So--- I had to pack up my long down coat, her short puffy down coat, my purse, an oversized pennant, a half full cup of lemonade and a very cranky kid and try to wiggle my way out of the folding chair rows (we had really good, up close seats) past Elmo balloons and many, many other moms and dads with kids in their laps. I really hope I didn't spill any lemonade on anyone!

We walked back to the car (I forgot to mention that I accidentally parked WAY far away from the Target Center-- like a 20 minute walk through the skyway) and headed home.

Now she's trying to rest to Mulan....I've had to stop this entry four separate times to address blanket issues, socks issues, and cat issues (Kitties bugging Alex! They go now!!).

Auntie Carrie is coming over tonight for some relief work, and Dave and I are going to a movie. I hope Alex doesn't give Carrie too much of a run for her money. ........

and do I HAVE to give her another dose of the steroids??

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Update on Allergies

Thanks so much for all the calls / messages that everyone has left us. Sorry if I wasn't able to answer the phone last night, but I went to bed EARLY after such a hectic day! In fact, I was planning on sleeping on the floor of Alex's room so I could monitor her for any increase in symptoms, but I was kicked out around 11:30. Yep- Alex woke up because she was uncomfortable (she was itching in her sleep CONSTANTLY which made me wake up every time she moved) and demanded "Mama sleep in her OWN bed now". So, I figured that no new symptoms were starting and went back to the master bedroom.

This morning the swelling in her joints is down significantly-- she can now walk (albeit gingerly) and not have any pain. (at 7pm last night she was still not able to stand! Thank God for steroids...) We went to Bible School this morning and she was noticeably tired and much mellower than usual, but she had fun with her teachers and friends.
When we arrived home there was a mysterious package on the front step. It seems that GrandMama Jones sent Alex a VERY special 'sick prize'. She seemed shocked into silence when she first opened it, not sure it was real! You can see what remains of her facial swelling, too-- not too much! She crashed shortly after doing a bit of dancing, but hopefully will get full energy back soon.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Allergies are here to stay

Well, no photos, but we'll just say it's been a hectic sort of day. Dave and I got Alex up this morning and were alarmed to see big bruises where some of her rash had been. We both chalked it up to a disappearing rash- weird, but we'd monitor it.

During ECFE, I kept looking at Alex's wrists, which really looked like they were getting puffy. I called the nurse line at 12:30 to report the bruises and swelling and someone 'took a message' for the nurse. Well, two hours (and WAY too much internet research) later I called back to, suprise surprise, get a hold of a nurse who had never received my message, but told me to bring her in immediately.

To make a long story short, by the time we reached the clinic, Alex was screaming in pain every time I asked her to stand or put weight on her feet. The doctor took one look at her and called in another doc for a look. They did a blood test and urinalysis (thank GOD for potty training!) to rule out a more serious kidney problem and determined that Alex was still reacting to the Amoxicillin. She shows symptoms of three different kind of adverse reactions to the drug (two kinds of rash, under the skin bleeding, swollen joints and facial swelling). Its safe to say that she's allergic to penicillin, too.

So.....a huge dose of antihistamines and a script for a 3 day steriod treatment later, we're back at home snuggled on the couch watching Mulan. We go back in for a follow-up on Friday. Hopefully (between the steroids, Benadryl and Motrin) she'll be back to feeling like herself soon!

Monday, January 11, 2010

Allergies emerge

So Dave brought Alex into the bathroom at 7:20am, covered with a bright red 'sunburn'-type rash. Our first thought was that it was heat rash, but it wasn't prickly....we then noticed dime-sized circles all over her back, and thought maybe she had insect bites (bedbugs? fleas?) After a lukewarm bath (to see if it helped) Alex and I hopped in the car to make it to the doctor's at 7:45am, so we could be the first walk-in of the day.
She's allergic to amoxicillin. She is just finishing up a course to treat an ear infection, and apparently it can take a while for symptoms to spring up. For now we discontinue the med and wait for her hives (because that's what they have become) to settle down in 2-4 days. Until then she's itchy and uncomfortable, but able to go to classes and playdates. So that's what we did!
We had our first day back at Adventures in Music class for our 2nd semester there. Today Ms. Michelle had a winter-theme, and one of the things Alex enjoyed doing was 'skating' on paper plates to Vivaldi's 'Winter'.
Then it was back to the house to host a MOMS Club playgroup. Alex had fun playing with her friends and did a fairly good job sharing her toys (considering her medical state). They played and had lunch here-- two of the three families we had over live right in Stonemill Farms, so it's nice to get to know some 'neighbors'!

All in all, it seems that if I keep her busy, she's less likely to scratch and itch and focus on her rash. After her nap we'll give her an oatmeal bath and call it a day. It might just be time for some "Wizard of Oz"!

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Big Girl Bites

We stopped by St. Olaf this afternoon to see Auntie Rorie (who lavished gifts upon Alex-- including a brand new 'Cinderella' headband that she's modeling in the photos) and enjoyed a nice lunch at Hogan Brothers.....As we said our goodbyes, Alex kept asking everyone to "come home with Alex". Believe it or not, I think we'll finally be back to our 'normal' schedule tomorrow-- no visitors or holidays for weeks to come! How will we ever manage?

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Tappin' to the Raptor Center

While Gramps, Grams and Daddy went to Little Gym with Alex this morning, I took the time to peruse the local Once Upon a Child, where I was thrilled to find a pair of tap shoes that looked about Alex's size. Due to her obsession with The Wizard of Oz, I thought she'd get a kick out of being able to really dance like the Tin Man! Boy was she excited when I showed them to her!

Having already put in place several rules regarding the shoes (1. No tap shoes at meal times, 2. Tap shoes can only be worn IN the house-- they are not for running errands or going to classes), I realize that a day may come when I regret giving her this footwear. For now, we're all enjoying Alex's performances.

After we pried her tap shoes off her feet, we headed to the Minnesota Raptor Center today. I had heard about it when I was working at Minneapolis Academy, and a volunteer brought some birds to school for an assembly. As Alex is a huge fan of Bald Eagles, I thought this would be right up her alley.

We arrived at 1pm for the scheduled 'talk', which was done by a very enthusiastic volunteer. Alex sat through the entire thing, peppering in 'answers' to her questions. She was able to tell her that raptors were meat-eaters, had hooked beaks and sharp talons and very very good vision.

After the talk we were given a tour of the holding facility -- where birds who can NOT be released back into nature stay. We saw at least 6 bald eagles, including one not behind any wire at all. They had an entire conference-sized room roped off, and there were four birds tethered to their individual perches, just hanging out inside (it was too cold for these individuals to be outside). Alex was in awe of the barn owl and bald eagle. She was also ecstatic to bring home two new 'friends' (owl toys) courtesy of generous Grandparents.

Inspired by our recent visit to the raptor center, you can see my new mantle display--