Two of my well-beloved relatives have requested a blog update. Both check the blog regularly but one doesn't like blood. And since my burned arm has been prominent for 20+ days, I'm finally replacing it with something a bit less gory.
Oh! And see below too!
Eek! Isn't she darling!?
September has flown by, and as far as my personal life's months, it's been a good one.
Bridgette has been relatively healthy, and as you can see, she's growing up fast.
Time keeps ticking . . .
I was busy the first half of the month with drills and school and other stuff. But in the last 10 days I've been able to slow down and spend more quality snuggle-time with my family. Which I love because . . .
. . . time keeps ticking away . . .
This post will serve as a general overview of September as well as a reminder that our babies turn into little girls faster in some months than others.
In case you care, one year ago September is when The Bridgenator started walking! Can you believe it?
One year later and B has made additional important advances this September. I'll mention a few below.
(By the by, 10 years ago this September is when I had my knee surgery too -- talk about time ticking! Feels like it was yesterday.)
So, as always, early September means Labor Day weekend. We have a family tradition of spending it at the International Sheepdog Championship at Soldier Hollow, but for some reason, Jeff was not interested this year.
Instead we spent the Monday holiday at Thanksgiving Point. It was a SUPERB day. Hopefully that will be a blog unto itself, so I won't detail you here.
I've been able to spend a fair amount of time hanging out with friends this month too, and that has been refreshing. Here I am with darling Ann-Marie, who has put up with me now for 14 years!
Ah. The stories we could (and do!) tell . . .
Right. So a casual mention of my drills because an overview would be remiss without them. I will attempt to bore you with a million drill photos on another day.
1st -- Countywide, 7 hospitals. One large hospital evacuated for medical surge training. All patients moved by bus/ambulance to the other 6 hospitals.
I did moulage (fun!) then got to team-lead a 7 person Medical Reserve Corps triage/treatment crew at UVRMC. In 2 1/2 hours we triaged/treated (with the help of UVRMC staff) 100+ trauma victims.
There were about 250 volunteer victims spread between the 6 hospitals, but UVRMC is one of the largest hospitals, so we got a big chunk of the participants.
Just like the term "medical surge" implies, the victims came in waves. It was really interesting.
2nd -- Two days later we had our big city drill for which I was the lead-planner, and I stayed busy accomplishing lots of final details right up to the moment it started.
One of the details was creating homemade moulage kits since professional kits can cost anywhere from $250-$400 each, and our city has a small budget.
I managed to make 2 of them for about $100.
Bridgette "helped" me.
We ended up having about 7,300 residents participate in our disaster drill -- sadly, a lower number than last year by almost 800 -- but still better than any U.S. city of which I am aware.
In addition to all the community response, we found some gaps and holes to fill in city emergency management (and equipment), and that's the main point of executing exercises like this.
Also, we discovered our accounting is off when compared to census records. So that's a big deal, and something better to reconcile in peace than in the aftermath of a tumbledown earthquake. We're investigating the discrepancy now.
As far as the minute-by-minute, play-by-play of my master-events plan for that evening, it went down almost perfectly. Any hiccups or glitches were barely that, so I was quite pleased overall.
There was a ton going on during the city drill: many activities, many locations, new technical components, and lots of overlap.
One photo of one event can't capture the essence of the evening, but still. This pic of the CERT mock had some nice bright colors, so here you go.
After the drills, as priorlikeheretoforepreviously mentioned, I was able to relax. Ends up this activity is not overrated.
We have really enjoyed the Fall weather, and unlike so many people I observe -- by choice or by necessity -- we're lucky we can take the time to bask in it.
In this vein, Bridgette regularly asks to have a picnic outside, and I'm happy to oblige.
The picnic might or might not actually include food, but it always includes books, because one of B's advances comes in the form of reading. She *loves* books and wants me to read to her every day.
In addition, for the first time, she's willing to sit by herself to play for a few minutes here and there, and I've noticed she sits longest if there's a pile of books nearby to "read."
Books or no books, one thing never seems to change . . .
She still loves to wrestle!
(Translation: Bridge likes to lay on me, walk on my back, slide down my legs, be held upside-down, tickle, kiss, or in any other way be attached to my physical body, as often as possible.)
And the dogs prefer to be nearby too.
One big change we're seeing this month is lack of sleep, again.
This makes both nighttime and daytime more challenging.
It's not as bad as before, but we sure did love those 3 months when we all slept through the night!
(Haha! As if they were ever perfect? No. I'm a light-sleeper and a heavy-thinker. Whereas Jeff has had a lot of back pain for which he recently had an MRI.
In case you're interested, he was diagnosed with herniated discs and bilateral facet disease in L2-S1 -- which is a very fancy way of saying he is genetically predisposed to lower back problems and 24 years of working at a computer hasn't helped. Also, it's made it hard for him to sleep well through the night.)
Outside of our personal sleep issues, Bridgette has been up a lot more frequently too.
After no nighttime accidents since July, she's had a handful of middle of the night poopsplosions recently. I might have figured out why (maybe), and we're implementing an incentive chart now, experimenting with a solution.
In addition, ends up Bridgette is finally afraid of the dark. I expected this earlier, and when she showed no difficulties before now, I hoped that maybe we had skipped that part of childhood.
So, we're working through some long, long nights that way too.
Lots of singing involved, mostly.
And truth be told? If I have to choose between cleaning up poop and rocking gently in song?
Well . . .
One more aspect of less sleep is that Bridgette seems to be morphing out of afternoon naps, much to my distress.
When she naps, the time is getting later and later, going down at 3, 4 or 5PM and sleeping until 6 or 7PM. But she's skipping naps almost every other day now.
On the night of the BYU / U of U football showdown, September 17, she hadn't napped, and then she stayed up for the whole game! (Which was better than me -- it was a dreadful match-up.)
We left our friends' house, loaded her in the car, and hadn't even made it down their street before she conked out.
Note: Notice her "pink seat?" Bridgette has moved to a booster!
Technically she's still a bit small for that, but her baby car seat broke, and she was on the edge of growing into a booster anyway, so we bought one with a 5-point harness and sides. She likes it and regularly mentions its pinkness.
So on good days (please see above -- requires a good night), I have started exercising again in the *morning.*
This has not been possible for years. I've tried, as best I could manage, to exercise in some form since Bridgette was born. It's been hit-and-miss depending on the day, week, or month (please see prior blog entries -- all of them).
But I've found I really do have more energy if I get my heart-rate going early in the day.
Mostly I swim laps, never shorter than 30 minutes, never longer than 90 -- usually 40 minutes to an hour. Sometimes I hike or lift weights or use the machines at a local gym.
Lately I've attempted to run again (chuckle! cackle! guffaw!) There's a lovely path that winds directly behind our home. In the morning light, it beckons like a beautiful, glittering sun-speckled fantasy world.
Once I'm on the trail, somehow all that disappears.
I'm not really a great runner, and if I'm not careful on downhills, my knees *kill* me the rest of the day. But I'm trying. I know it's good for me.
(as shot from our backyard)
Our mornings and nights are quite chilly now. We're spending the days with no air-conditioning, just the windows open. Last night we left them open too long and actually had to turn on the heat.
In light of this, Bridgette has prepped for the first snow which often comes in October. She helped pick out her winter coat. It was either this pink monstrosity or a purple one that fit. But she liked this one better, and I liked that I won't have to buy her a coat next year either.
You can see the 5/6 tag in the photo. Even though she's not 5/6 (or even 4), and we need to roll up the sleeves, it is an indication that she is growing. And we like that.
And speaking of growing, she's growing up in other ways too. Like she's letting me do her hair regularly nowadays.
And Bridgette's speaking way more too.
It's about . . . time!
A couple of weeks ago she said her first clearly pronounced three-syllable word. She said it as though it were three independent words as she repeated something Jeff and I were discussing in the car. One of us had said the word grasshopper, and she broke in with, "Grass-hopp-er?"
It was wonderful.
In the few weeks following we have heard great progress in her language skills. She has started saying 4 word sentences regularly. She asks "Why?" at every instant instead of "What-hey?"
She speaks clearly to the dogs. She recently told Chewy, "Don't eat de grass!" and, "You stink. Go away! Go away!" She is often heard saying, "No, Pi! My cheeseburg!"
These are words we have known she understood. She's just never said them. Ever.
Every morning she wakes up and asks, "Mommy? Where did Daddy go?"
To which I respond, "Bridgette, where *did* Daddy go?"
She says, "Hmm... hmm..." while cocking her head from side to side (as though she were thinking hard -- which she's not -- she knows darn-tootin' where Daddy goes).
Then she'll answer suddenly, as though she's just thought of it, "To work!"
What else? Just in the last week she's been talking so much it's getting hard to remember all the funny things she says.
It's nice to be able to write that.
Oh! Here's one!
As we're driving around town, she notices every stop sign. As we're rolling to a halt, she spells out, "S - T - O - P."
Then she gets a big smile on her face and yells out what she thinks she just spelled.
Makes me smile, every time.
She's not perfect yet... we still have a long way to go. When she talks to herself it's still mostly babble. She doesn't like to speak "on demand" and will rarely answer strangers (or me, if strangers are nearby). And her pronunciation/enunciation is still way off most of the time too.
But she's opening her mouth and trying! And she's getting better fast.
And I'm getting better at deciphering. Most of the time I can tell what she's saying no matter how obscure (and with her vivid imagination, she really does pop out with a lot of random stuff: cupcakes, band-aids, asteroids, worms, etc.)
It might take me a couple of guesses, but I almost always get there.
Actually, yesterday I was trying on some dresses, and the shopkeeper was playing with Bridgette just outside the door.
I heard the shopkeeper asking, "What?" a lot, but then I'd hear Bridgette repeating herself until she was understood. And they were able to play quite nicely with B communicating her interests or what game should come next.
To the shopkeeper it meant nothing.
To me it meant a great deal.
In other amusingness, just today B pointed to her diaper and said, "Mrs. Mouse and Poo!" which meant "Mickey Mouse and Pluto" who were pictured on the front.
I thought that was cute.
And also earlier today she stood very still, then said, "Mom, what's that sound?"
(I've learned that she knows the answers to most of her questions, and it's much faster to ask her back than to guess.)
"I don't know, Bridgette. What is that sound?"
She pointed to herself.
"Is it your tummy?" (Her intestines make a lot of really loud digesting noises all the time.)
"No, Mom. Heartbeat!"
Another part of September, and a continuing development for Bridgette, has been potty-training.
Space is still an on-going interest for the our tiny one, so when I realized potty-training was taking a step backward, I decided to intervene with some space-related incentives.
(@Backward: She was able to hold her bowels for long periods of time -- an *amazing* thing for a 3-year-old TCHD child. In my support group I hear about TCHD kids all the time who can't manage to control output until they're in their early teens . . .
. . . so it seemed really good at first!
But ends up 2 trips to the potty during the day were insufficient for keeping her dry at night. "Dry" being a funny term in our house because she drinks at least a gallon of home-prepared Pedialyte-like liquid every single day, and we therefore still change plenty o' soaked diapers.
In fact, she drinks right up to bedtime then goes to bed with 3 full sippy cups. Then she wakes up every morning drenched in a puddle of urine -- urine being a lovely alternative to poop, by the way.
Lovely urine, you say? When compared? Yes. Definitely yes. It's mostly water, smells like ammonia.
And for those of you who are shaking your heads, wondering why we allow this, coming up with solutions that [here's where I get mean] we've probably already considered . . .
Well, let me tell you. This wonderfully productive urination is hard to prevent. She has to drink. She has no colon. She's thirsty *all* the time. If she doesn't go to bed with a bunch of sippy cups, she wakes up and cries from thirst. And lets face it, bathing often, cleaning up urine, and changing wet diapers is nothing compared to dehydration. We've had worse.)
So . . . back to the non-parenthetical stuff. When she only went twice during the day, we were having one or more poopsplosions at night.
One day I was making some giant charts for myself (to help me be a better housewife actually, not one of my strengths) when I opted to invest in a chart for Bridgette too.
I picked the poster, and she picked out the stickers.
Every time she poops (as long as she doesn't lollygag) she gets to put a heart sticker on her spaceship.
When she fills up the ship, we get to go to space!
(Which is actually the planetarium. But she'll really like it.)
The first day she pooped 6 times! Since then it's been 3-5 a day, and we haven't had any more nighttime accidents.
When she goes potty, she has me push on her belly as she poops to help her physically move more digested substance from her system. It seems to help.
(I should mention, however, that she is looking distended fairly regularly these days, and I'm worried about it. We're trying to figure out if this is from eating and getting normal stomach stretch or if perhaps she has an additional restriction in her upper-bowel -- intermittent ganglion cell functionality being another "normal" for TCHD kids.
After eating a big meal, if we can't get her to poop right away, her belly swells up, and she comes close to vomiting -- though she passionately hates vomiting and never gives in. Last night she ate like a monster, but then her tummy hurt so much she didn't want me to touch it. She actually requested that I do a rectal irrigation. Very odd. She changed her mind as soon as I inserted the catheter. In the morning she looked great, so I can only assume at this point things are moving through and being absorbed for learning and growth.
We're keeping a wary eye on things though.)
She takes the hearts off the sticker sheet in exact rows, starting at the top, right to left. Then she puts them on her spaceship in exactly the same order. Right to left . . . in the same places they were located on the sticker sheet.
Another part of September has been hanging out with Jeff's twin and family. Jeff and Jeremy continue to work hard on their new business, often getting together at 6AM to work for a couple of hours before heading off to their other full-time jobs. Then they work on it in the evenings too.
Occasionally Heidi brings the girls over in the evening too, and we get to play. Bridgette continues to love Ellie-Belly. (In fact, they are both asleep in Bridgette's room right now having their first slumber party!)
They get together to play fairly regularly and have a great time together.
Jeff and I make time (there's that word again!) for each other when possible, usually late, late at night. :) We like to watch a show and snuggle on the couch -- though we're looking for a new series that will keep our interest and having a hard time finding much. Suggestions?
The dogs *always* snuggle with us! They are stress-busters of the foremost degree. There's nothing quite as cathartic as petting a pup.
When either Piper or Chewy falls asleep on Jeff's lap, he always pushes their lips up in their sleep, so they look mean. It makes us laugh. We take pictures. They don't even know it's happening.
Um, here's a photo of an un-napped Bridgette who at 7PM, says to us, "I'm tired. I go sleep now," then takes her blanket and lays on the living room floor. Which thing had never before happened.
She ONLY sleeps in her crib.
Jeff and I looked at each other wide-eyed. And then took a picture. It's what we do.
Here's the end stuff.
Another thing we've done in September is hit a couple of restaurants. (But not very often cuz it's expensive and not as healthy as eating at home. I'm still trying to attain my healthiest form; Jeff is at least trying not to gain weight. Having said that, it's fun to go out, and Bridgette is so entertaining at restaurants these days.)
And in total alignment with the late-night writing-style I've adapted late, late at night, let me finish with this photo of the inside of Jeff's new computer.
I'm not sure why he took it, but doesn't it look cool?
You know, like something you're maybe used to seeing now but seems totally futuristic if you step back no further than 10 years?
It's all about . . . time.
I sort of mention it because all of the photos in today's blog (except one) were taken with our cell phones. And even though that's really common too, it wasn't common like . . . yesterday.
Sometimes I pretend I'm someone from the distant past, coming to our time and observing with no predilections or explanations. And I'm always amazed.
What? You wish to give me a prize for being the most random blogger ever? I accept.
So, that's all the time I can manage to write this post.
Thanks for taking the time to read it!