Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Motor Class = Playtime Therapy

Bridgette had three therapist appointments last week prior to Papa Jeff's surgery: her PT, OT, and her first experience at Motor Class.

When Bridgette's physical therapist came last week, she tried to correct B's posture by attaching two pieces of specialty tape to her back. We were supposed to leave them on until they came off by themselves.

But, you might note that the strips go down into her diaper. It lasted about 5 days before the stench of poop-saturated tape mandated its removal.

Today Bridgette had her second Motor Class at Kids on the Move. This is her "almost-crawl-but-mostly-stuck" position.

Motor Class essentially provides her with a new environment and a lot of toys she doesn't have at home. Thus, she may (or may not) be more willing to try to move to get them. Here's the normal class schedule:

15 minutes - Play time
15 minutes - Sensory time (in the corn box)
15 minutes - Lesson time (for the parents)
15 minutes - Music time (Bridgette's favorite)
15 minutes - Ball room
15 minutes - Snack time
1 1/2 hours total

Here is the corn box used during Sensory Time and one of the therapists, Becca, who helps run the class. Bridgette wasn't very happy at the corn box today, although she liked it last week. I have to watch her carefully to be sure she doesn't eat the corn. While this might not be a huge deal to most kids, corn is a big NO on Bridgette's specialty-diet list.

Sadly, I got no pictures of Music Time but Bridgette likes it very much. She keeps excellent rhythm with the egg shakers, the warm fuzzies, and the "black-bird" socks. She's fine with the hat song and pumpkin song too. The only thing she doesn't like during Music Time is moving the way we want her to. Shocker.

This is the "Ball Room." And Bridgette's favorite part of the Ball Room are the balls. I had to move B. immediately after this photo was taken. Her friend Superman climbed the ladder and successfully jumped off backwards without looking. But by then, Bridgette was safely in another corner of the balls.

Here is the rest of the Ball Room. Today I tried getting Bridgette to reach through the rolling tube to me on the other side. She was pathetically sad about it. I had high hopes, but baby hates the tube.

You might notice all the costumes. As a pre-Halloween treat, the kids got to go trick-or-treating around the facility. Bridgette hated that also. She cried, then sat down and smashed her forehead on the ground -- which made her cry even harder.

The swing is designed to move in all directions while the kids lay, sit, kneel or stand, holding on or not. It's pretty cool. Bridgette sort of hates it too. Frankly, all this hate may be a result of Motor Class overlapping nap-time by 100%.

No pics of Snack Time, but it's not hard to imagine. Snacks. Snacks on floor. Snacks on lap. Snacks in the cup holder. Almost no snacks in tummy. We have had serious trouble getting Bridgette to eat the last week. I'm afraid she may be losing weight again. We don't have Meal Time anymore; we have Peck Time.

In addition to lack of appetite, her poo is very runny again. Perhaps we've introduced something that doesn't gel with her system, but we can't figure out what. She's not showing any other indication of illness. In the meantime, her bum is bleeding again too and changing time is painful for both of us.

Overall we are seeing minute improvements, almost daily. They haven't added up to much yet, but we expect they will in the long-run. And if she treats mobility like she has everything else in life, one day she will stand up, walk across the room, climb onto the piano bench, play a Rachmaninoff prelude, then turn and proclaim, "Rachmaninoff is too tranquil. Do you have any Wagner?"

And of course, I will have to tell her, "It's pronounced 'Vagner,' darling."

Friday, October 23, 2009

You Da' (Carpal) Boss, Jeff!

Jeff has had constant serious pain in his right wrist and shoulder for years. He doesn't complain about it because he's like that. It's been bad enough though that at times he's had to take days off work because he can't even mouse-hand due to the stab.

He's had x-rays and nerve tests and yadda, but last week he went to a hand specialist about what we thought was a ganglion cyst. It ended up being a carpometacarpal boss, or essentially, a series of bony protuberances something like spurs, growing at a nerve junction.

Jeff was admitted to UVRMC (the hospital where Bridgette was born) for same-day surgery. We were there about 5 hours. His surgeon, Dr. Curtis Johnson, sliced an entry point then used what he called "nippers" to cut the extra bone out.

Dr. Johnson reported a successful surgery with no surprises.

Except for wisdom teeth removal, this was Jeff's first experience with full-anesthesia surgery. He mentioned early in the day that being in the hospital as a patient is very different from being a visitor.

Jeff was a good patient though, easy to help & non-complaintive. He wasn't too loopy as he came out of anesthesia during post-op, he just kept repeating himself a lot. His three favorite quotes of the hour, each stated 10-20 times:

1) "The last thing I remember is two big bright lights and they put a mask on me. Then I don't remember anything else."

(He didn't realize how true that was...)

2) "Did you have a good lunch with Ann-Marie? How are they doing?"

3) "I can wiggle my fingers!"

Jeff got special booties to keep his size 14's warm. And yes, I know what you're thinking right now. And you're completely right. I really should have been a graphic designer... or maybe an entomologist.

This looks worse than it is. That's mostly iodine all over his pillow. Then again, we're not allowed to remove his huge bandage for 10-14 days. So possibly, this looks much better than it is.

One perfectly lovely aspect of the day was seeing my dear friends the Bott's. Ann-Marie and I were college roommates during our undergrad years. She and I have both had non-traditional and challenging experiences when it comes to having kids, so we're able to relate in a way that many women can't completely understand.

Four weeks ago, she birthed adorable identical triplet girls. You can read about their crazy journey here: Bott Family Triplets.

The girls are all in the UVRMC Neonatal ICU, same place Bridgette went for a few hours before being taken to Primary Children's. Her babies are beautiful and growing nicely and we wish them all the best.

Ann-Marie and Anthony have a tremendously hectic schedule caring for their infants and their 5-year-old son, so seeing them has been impossible. But since we were all at the hospital today, we got to eat lunch together!

Sorry about the washed out picture... I'm still figuring out how to control the flash on my fancy-pants new camera.

It just so happened that on the same day we saw them (today), their triplets were featured in a Daily Herald article. The article is primarily about Dr. Stephen Minton, chief of neonatology, who has helped shape the NICU over 30 years of service.

I really like this man. He was the first at UVRMC to instantly recognize the need for Bridgette to be moved to PCMC, and he made all the arrangements for her ambulance transportation, Life Flight crew, admittance, etc.

It was such a whirlwind day, I didn't know who he was and haven't known who to thank. But I would recognize that haircut anywhere! Now I know his name and can send a long overdue thank you card.

Here are the scrumptious, tiny Bott babies and a link to the article on Dr. Minton: Neonatal ICU Doctor.

And here is Jeff being wheeled like a champ to the car to go home after a long-ish day (but nothing compared to our other hospital stays this year!)

At the moment I'm writing this (about midnight), his pain block is finally wearing off and he's starting to feel the fire of having his bones snipped out and sanded down. Here's to hoping we all get a little sleep tonight! :)

p.s. - To help control the spread of H1N1 (which is somewhat rampant here), UVRMC isn't allowing anyone 14 years or younger through the doors, unless they're a patient.

p.p.s. - My extreme thanks to my good neighbors for watching Bridgette in shifts today. She was well-tended. I was overly nervous about leaving her for the day, and I really appreciate the kind help.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Of dogs and babies

I was joking with Bridgette's occupational therapist today that my dog and Bridgette are about the same intelligence level. It really was a joke, but you've also got to remember that Chewy is a Border Collie, and he's spankin' brilliant.

It became much funnier to me when the OT explained that to try to get Bridgette to chew, I was supposed to put a special rubber toy in her mouth and play "tug."

A few minutes later, Bridgette was playing with the light switches, "on," "off," "on..."

"What the...?"

Yes, my Border Collie decided to take the next hit, and using the switches across the room, jumped up and turned the light "off" then "on."

What awesome kids I have.

Here are a bunch of photos:

Bri with her favorite toy.

Two babies on my lap, B. and Piper.

Talking to Gramma. Babe likes the phone muy mucho.

Yes, folks! We have some kneeling!

And plenty of play-time.

And some Halloween parties - pics from the first of five.
p.s. - Jeff's having hand-surgery tomorrow.
Full anesthesia! Wish him well.

Seth, a young man down the street who is very nice and likes Bridgette mucho tambien.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Second-Hand Love

We shopped at our local thrift store this morning, looking for some Halloween accoutrements. I hadn't been to a Deseret Industries in several years and had forgotten what a lot of neat stuff they recycle. I had to remind myself I was shopping for costumes, not real clothes, or I'd have bought a whole lot more than planned.

As it was, we did purchase a couple of unplanned items for the kiddo. I thought, "We're here in the land of the cheapest toys on earth. I'll let Bridgette pick out a stuffed animal."

So we maneuvered through a lot of other moms who had the same idea, looking at the oodles and oodles of stuffed bears of all sizes and colors, dolls, giraffes, and...

"Mmm! Mmm!" Bridgette says to me, pointing directly and determinedly.

"Really?" I say. "That's what you want?"

She was sure. I handed her a little stuffed pear with swinging legs and bright red shoes. She hugged it close and beamed for a moment before pointing to its sibling. We couldn't leave it behind. Cuddling them both tightly, we proceeded to the kitchen aisles to look for a pastry cutter.

Well, we didn't find one, but of a sudden babe points again, grunting most emphatically. Sure enough, out of place amongst the teacups and saucers is this little action figure. I picked it up and checked his price-tag. For $0.50? Alright then, three toys total.

First she tried to pull his head off, uttering, "Uck. Uck." When I carefully explained that his head was supposed to be "stuck," that's the way heads come, she changed tack. She put his head to her ear, his feet to her mouth and began to chat on the phone. Fine by me. For $0.50 we got an action figure and a phone. What a deal.

Little did I know.

We got to the the checkout counter, and the woman at the register says, "Naruto!"

I looked politely puzzled.

"Hey look," she says, taking him over to the next aisle's checkout lady.

"Naruto!" she exclaims. "I didn't know he was over there. How much?"

"This lady is buying him," our register-woman says.

"Yes," I say, "I'm buying him." That's right. Three minutes earlier I'd never heard of Naruto, but I'm suddenly feeling possessive.

"Oh," says register-woman-two in a most dejected manner.

I feel the need to explain, so I don't seem like a total heel.

"It's my daughter's. She picked him out."

To my surprise, register-woman-two puts hands to prayer position and bows to my baby, stating something about a good choice and wisdom.

I forgot his name by the time we arrived home, so first I Googled "Anime names A-Z" then turned to Wikipedia to learn about Naruto. It appears Naruto Uzumaki is the star of his own Manga series, called Naruto. Those of you who know this are rolling your eyes.

And in case you wondered if I truly am a heel, the answer is yes. I've already looked up "Naruto action figure" to see what he's worth on eBay.

Ends up he's worth about $0.50... for now...

Sunday, October 11, 2009

An Excess of Dupers

One morning back in July, shortly after Bridgette was released from the hospital, Jeff surprised me as I drove him to work. (After almost 7 years, we still only have one car!) He said, "I'm taking you on a date on October 9th, so put it on the calendar."

He wouldn't tell me where we were going.

To boot, this ended up being only our second date since Bridgette was released from the hospital three months ago.

Kelly & Mark were super kind to tend Bridgette. Here is cousin Tyler, once again showing how well they get on.

As stated, Jeff kept our date a suprise until I walked in the doors of the concert hall up in Salt Lake City.

My super duper thoughtful husband took me to a live recording of one of my favorite NPR shows! It's called From the Top, and it's always amazing!

These incredibly talented kids play these wildly duper duper duper hard pieces of music. Then the host, Christopher O'Riley - himself a concert pianist, interviews them, and you realize that they are just kids. Sometimes they are polished and presentable, but usually not.

A couple weeks ago, after listening to From the Top in the car, I told Jeff that someday, if we were ever lucky enough to be in the same city it was being recorded, I would love to go to a live show. Of course, he already had tickets, but I had no idea it was coming to SLC. They had never been here before.

If you want to listen, the show will be broadcast on (or around) November 23rd. You can check the Broadcast Schedule.

Our show had two teenage solo performers and a small orchestra, all Utah locals, as well as a 10 year-old trumpet player from Seattle and a 15 year-old marimba player from Chicago. It was awesome. Super duper duper awesome.

Three of the gifted orchestra members were 8 year-old little girls. They were so... little and... and... cute! When they bobbed across the stage, you just wanted to pet them. Until, of course, they played Vivaldi's "Summer" from The Four Seasons and you realized they could probably slice you into tiny pieces with their violin bows. They were like small musical ninjas.

Here we are, complete smiles after the show. I was fluttery with excitement all night. It was such a dream.

Jeff took this one of me in my little black dress. It's one of two new dresses (besides maternity clothes) that I've bought in the last... oh... five years or so. I was excited to finally get out and wear it somewhere. I wasn't going to post it, but Jeff chose the pictures this week.
As if one date wasn't enough (and it would have been -- it was dupery incredible), how about a weekend full of fun?

We signed up for a 5k that was organized to raise funds for the family of a young girl who is being treated for leukemia. The route went through Mark & Kelly's neighborhood, and they signed up too.

So, instead of picking Bridgette up at 11p, heading home, then coming right back the next morning, we had a grown-up sleepover! It was the real deal, complete with a yummy pancake breakfast made by our super duper sis-in-law.

The weather was beautiful -- a chipper Utah autumn morning, perfect for running cool without freezing the digits.

Here are both motley Johnson families. Jeff and his brother Mark are in the middle. They are flanked by their loving Kelly's. Kelly-the-Other's kids are in front (Tyler, Dustin, and Matthew) as is our little babs, pinked out in her jogging stroller.

We had a lot of this. She was in a fairly friendly mood all day.

But mostly she sucked her blankie.
She was super duper duper duper tired.

And who are we kidding? There was definitely some of this...

This is Dustin. What a cute kid!

Lest you think we are inestimably cooler than we are, let the world know that Tyler actually pushed Bridgette's jogger the whole way, up-hill and down. And he never walked (unlike we adults). His time was just over 1/2 hour. What a duper trooper!

This shot came after the race; Jeff's sharing his banana.

And just to confirm what an excess of dupers we experienced this weekend, I include this last photo. Bridgette was plum tuckered.

How many dupers was she tuckered, you ask? Enough to put her to bed at 4 p.m. and have her stay knocked out until 8 a.m. the following day. She was one duperly wiped out kid.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

15 months today!

Here is baby. We think she's cute. She has had good news this week.

Also, my dear mum & pop bought me a new camera for graduation. It's just arrived, and I'm only starting to get used to it. Someday soon I will read the directions. In the meantime, I took a bunch of photos of babs yesterday and Tuesday.

Title: Pumpkin Pie Face, For Real

Title: This is my brother. He's living with us for a while.

Title: Meet Dr. Black, Bridgette's surgeon.

(He says Bridgette's surgery sites look GREAT, and unless we experience problems or have questions, he never has to see Bridgette again.)

Title: I'm telling Dad the good news.
We talked for 2 whole minutes!

Title: Mom and baby went to lunch together to celebrate!

Bri couldn't eat anything on the menu but fries and spaghetti, and she didn't really dig the spaghetti.
(As an aside, it didn't really dig her either.)

She also visited her pediatrician this week, and she is lighter now at 15 months than she was at 12 months. She lost a few pounds at the hospital, and I guess she hasn't eaten enough fries yet to put the weight back on.

Her stats, once again, have shifted somewhat dramatically:
weight 30%, height 70%, and head circumference 50%.

Title: You know that scene in Lord of the Rings: Fellowship of the Ring when Bilbo tries to steal the ring back from Frodo and he makes that crazy face that makes everyone in the theater jump?

Wait for it...

Wait for it...

Title: This is Jeff.

He's a good husband. And he's pretty much a genious. He decided to make iPhone games, and we're about to release the first one: Deflect It. He bought a book and learned how to program in Mac language then made the whole game in only a couple of weeks.

Title: What a fuzzy, cuddly giant spider. I love it so much... Awww...

Title: Bridgette's new favorite position.

Title: We like each other.

Title: If I don't dump her back, she dumps herself back.
All baby-Bridgette-holders beware.

Title: Bath before bedtime.

We have also completed the last step for Bridgette to enter official therapy. Her PT will come twice a month, her OT once a month, and on Wednesdays, she will attend a mobility class with a lot of other kids who don't move. Say it with me... oh, the irony.