The Pre-Terrible Twos & Em Eye Update

We are in a new stage where the girls don’t want to do many of the things they’ve been doing for months. For example, they don’t want to eat unless you feed them, they don’t want diaper changes and flail around like angry alligators when you change them, and they don’t want to wear their clothes but also don’t want them off. They certainly can’t seem to decide what they want!

This is making the day-to-day a lot more interesting, in a not-so-great way. These new habits change daily (even hourly!). At dinner time they will eat a couple pieces of the food set out before them (type varies each day) and then throw everything else on the floor, no matter if they love it or not or are starving or not. In fact, they refuse to eat any more unless someone sits there and feeds it to them, bite by bite. Looks like we are back in the baby stage on this one, at least for the moment. Let’s hope this doesn’t last too long because it’s mildly irritating and takes so much longer.

The good news on this feeding strike- everyone still enjoys a variety of healthy foods (when we feed it to them), including:

For the love of sour cream
  • Broccoli: the current obsession with steamed broccoli is REAL.
  • Green beans/blueberries: they’ll eat a few themselves before starting the dodge ball match with you. Two of our main foods.
  • Mushrooms: this recent discover is a surprise, they are all thrilled to eat this off our forks and will eat ALL our mushrooms. Even a large container!
  • Corn: canned corn is a hit…sometimes they’ll eat it themselves for a handful of two.
  • Apples/grapes: we rediscovered these fruits last week and they chomp down both at snack time.
  • Blue corn chips: okay, not super healthy but they LOVE them.
  • Avocado: this is hit or miss right now, this has been a favorite food for six months now but lately it’s been floor decoration.
  • Sour cream: not really that healthy, but weirdly enough they will take a bite of anything smothered in it. And they will yell at you until more is shoveled into their mouth.
  • Fruit and veggie pouches: this is the go-to if we can’t convince anyone to eat their meal. Luckily they still like these and will chow down.
  • Yogurt: the funny thing is, they love yogurt and they love blueberries, but they do not love blueberry IN their yogurt. Sometimes I can sneak them in for Harper, but Reagan and Emerie will swallow the yogurt and deliberately spit out the berry with an offended glare at whoever is feeding them.

Reading that list doesn’t sound so bad…if they’d go back to feeding themselves. It doesn’t appear that teething is the issue and no one is sick, so that makes us believe that it is a mental game that they are testing us on. I was just getting used to handing them food and them eating it, even with the typical mess! And while the dogs very much enjoy this new trend…I would prefer to go back to them actually eating. Time will tell.

Most 1-year-olds dislike diaper changes and ours are no exception. Even with our “distraction” method, they still holler and try to get away from you. Since potty training (hopefully) is right around the corner, we are compensating for this rage by rewarding them. Once dressed they get the honor of throwing away the dirty diaper all by themselves…running into the kitchen and waiting for us to open the trash compactor so they can toss it away. Then they “help” close it and get a high five. This small task brings about a lot of toddler enthusiasm; although they are now fighting over them because everyone wants to participate, even when it isn’t their dirty diaper.

At meal time Emerie and Reagan always try to get their shirts off; Harper will join in when she sees her sisters do it. Thankfully they aren’t always coordinated enough to succeed; but, of course, this brings forth rage. And don’t even get me started on bibs…that ship has sailed.

Reagan hanging out in Emerie’s shoes

Emerie is the anti-socks and shoes baby; she is the first to pull them off and will not wear socks in the house. Occasionally we can keep her indoor booties on. Craig thinks this has something to do with a dislike of socks that have the little grippies on the bottom. She is also mastering removing her shoes in the car.

Another comical thing- since Emerie dislikes socks so much, it means I am not “allowed” to wear them inside either. If I’m sitting on the floor and wearing socks (this is Alaska so I usually am), then she is at my feet trying to pull them off. She’s converted Harper to this idea and they team up; the two of them will insist on removing everything from my feet each night and either try to wear them or throw them down toward the laundry area.

Harper doesn’t mind her shoes, but won’t leave on any zippered coats or hoodies unless fully occupied with other things. She knows how to unzip her coat and will do so by the time the other two are suited up and ready to go. Now grandma just needs to teach her to re-zip it!

Reagan doesn’t seem to have an issue wearing her shoes or coats, but dislikes hats and really dislikes gloves, even on cold walks!

Oh hey there, free sugar!

The girls are learning how to break a few more boundaries, such as reaching things on the counter they couldn’t touch before, climbing on higher surfaces while staring you down as you tell them not to, and opening the higher kitchen cabinet drawers that were never noticed (or locked) in the past. Reagan is convinced she should be allowed behind the baby gate in the living room when we are in open play mode- that area is blocked off by floor tiles and mini kid chairs. She keeps figuring out how to get back there and then gets stuck and mad about it. I believe we are right around the corner from another living room rearrange. We have an electrician coming out next week to raise several outlets so we can be a little safer and still plug things in.

So about five minutes after the nanny left yesterday, before Craig returned home from work, I turned around to this. In t-minus five split seconds someone (I’m guessing Reagan?) pulled this bag off the counter and sprinkled them everywhere. Then everyone, you know, who won’t eat for us…sat on the floor and enjoyed a marshmallow and dog hair snack together. We will now be pushing everything farther back against the backsplash. The good news is that everyone was completely willing to help me pick up the rest of them and set them into a bowl. I only stepped on the handful we missed for the next hour or so…good times. Here’s a fun reaction to me seeing the mess!


Emerie Eye Update

I took Emerie to her four week post-op checkup on Monday. The doctor wants to see us back in two months, after the holidays, to reassess if a third surgery will be necessary. While her eye isn’t trailing now, it hasn’t eased out as much as we hoped and she still looks a little cross-eyed at times. We knew this was a possibility and he intentionally over corrected during surgery in hopes it would center out on it own. There is now about a 50/50 chance we will require another one to loosen up one more eye muscle a bit more. There is also a possibility she will need another correction later; it could be five years, it could be thirty, only time will tell.

So for now, we keep doing what we are doing. Two hours of patching per day, more if she’s taking it well and forgets it’s on. Some days it might be a little less, because she’s either super grumpy or taken it off several times already. We continue taping each side of her glasses with medical tape, because she (or her sisters) won’t leave them alone otherwise! Minor progress, because we don’t have to put tape over the eye patch and the glasses now; the glasses help hold it on enough that she usually leaves it alone, at least for a while. And after patch time, she gets to hold her prize because she handled it like such a big girl!

Going for a run at Potter’s Marsh this weekend

Emerie Surgery #2 Update

With an opening in the doctor’s schedule for Emerie’s upcoming surgery, we pushed it up to today instead of the following Tuesday. The first procedure in June corrected her blurred vision by conducting a lensectomy and removing the cataracts in her left eye. The surgery then added a new lens and we’ve worked with patching to improve her eye use.

Today’s surgery, called an eye recession and resection, focuses on the muscles that control her left eye and will correct the lazy eye effects still hindering her. This is not considered a cosmetic surgery; while it repairs the look of a lazy eye and makes it less noticeable, it more importantly encourages her brain to use the damaged eye more and improves its focus and function. That is far more important than simply making it less visible to others, although that is a perk! The exterior eye muscle will be loosened and the interior one tightened to draw the eye in and minimize the wandering. The procedure is less invasive than the prior one but does result in a red, irritated eye for a couple of days.

There is a possibility she will need a third surgery in the future to do the same correction, as lazy eyes often shift back to some extent. With the nature of her eye issue, this is something that can be likely, but we won’t know for a while and it doesn’t happen to everyone. For now, straightening things out will hopefully assist her brain in using the bad eye even more than it currently has. We will continue with two hours of patching (of the stronger eye) each day and hope visibility improves.

Being silly with dad while the meds kick in.
Getting some early morning steps in

As I wrote this, Dr. Winkle came out with an update that everything went well and she is in recovery. She went back with him about 7:40 and was done by 8:25. Pretty quick! Just enough time to get donuts… after another hour we headed back to post-op and helped settle her before going home for the day.

Emerie was much more active this time around, so we wandered around the lobby when we checked in, she even helped me with my purse. Back in the pre-op area she did not want to sit still or be contained, even with the Versed medicine. In typical Emerie style, she spit some of that medicine right back in Craig’s face as he wrestled to give it to her. He can tell you that it doesn’t taste very good. She eventually became woozy from it, but still wanted to move around. Last time she just snuggled!

After her meds she sucked down a tiny cup of water. That plastic cup entertained her for a good 15 minutes, making her giggle as it crinkled against her teeth. It made for some silly pictures (see below!). She would not let the nurse take her forehead temperature, fought the anesthesiologist on checking her heart and lungs, and decided the pulse finger machine was permanently hers. In fact, the pulse machine went back with her into the operating room because she was literally not giving it up. She also got to walk back there with the doctor, not a nurse like last time.

I made the mistake of sipping my coffee thermos in front of her that was not appreciated, especially with the no food or drink rule before a surgery with anesthesia. Mental note for next time: don’t do that in front of her!

The dog walkers took Kalli and Koda for some adventuring this morning while we were out, hoping to tire them enough for calm puppies the rest of the day while Emerie settles in. Harper and Reagan get nanny and grandma playtime while I snuggle with Peanut.

For now, we are home. She was much happier in post-op than last time around. Instead of upset and crying, she was snuggly and very sleepy. She slept on the car ride home and is now totally out on my lap in the nursery.

Thank you everyone for the prayers and encouraging words for Miss Emerie. ❤

Busy Days and Eye Update

The past few weeks have proved to be busy and full of activity. With family (and extra hands) in town for a bit, the girls get to explore and adventure a little more than normal, whether that is out and about in Anchorage or simply playing out in the backyard.

A few other developments- we’ve implemented a mild time out time for hitting. At the moment Reagan is the champ on this, although prior to her it was Harper, so I believe it will continue to rotate. Even when you use the “mom voice” and scold, they will still go right back and hit again. We are working on that…I’m sure slow and steady will eventually win that race. That, or great patience and repetition!

The new backyard play place is a total hit. At first everyone was a bit hesitant about the big kid slide but that time has passed. Reagan will trust fall straight off of it if you aren’t looking, and while Harper and Emerie were a bit more timid on the solo sliding, they will occasionally keep you on your toes.

It impresses me how quickly they’ve mastered climbing it in such a short amount of time. They scramble up the smaller slide, climb onto it without help, and even slip off the older kiddo ladder back to the ground, higher than their feet can touch!

No more daytime bottles!

This is a big one. At seventeen months old, we finally broke the daytime bottle routine. It was quite the battle to implement sippy cups- we tried multiple different types before finding one that really clicked. For the longest time they just weren’t interested in them and wanted a bottle. Interestingly enough, we aren’t even on heavy flow for the bottles we still use, and only on a size 3 nipple. We tried to size up but they didn’t like it. This past week Grandma Sue and Papa Lon taught everyone how to use the straw type, and now we have two different sets that work. They also have a mild obsession with adult water bottles…if they find one, the screaming, rage fest begins over who gets to tow it around.

It feels quite odd not having bottles to wash alllll the time. After over a year of doing it constantly (and I mean constantly), it is strangely freeing. Once the girls get up in the morning, they get a regular breakfast and then sippy cups as they desire until lunch time. After lunch and naps they don’t even seem to notice that they no longer want a bottle, and sippy cups are out and used as needed. Now if we could be this successful on naps…we’d be doing great!

We are still doing bottles for bedtime routine, trying to get about 8oz (or more) of breast milk down everyone (they don’t want to drink the supplemental formula as much at nighttime). The 6am bottle will also continue for the foreseeable future; it is the only way everyone ends up back in their cribs until morning wake up. Since we still haven’t mastered everyone sleeping in their beds again, this reset is quite important for us to get ready for work, maybe get a short, kidless nap in before the day starts, or have a little quiet, adult (ahem…Netflix…) time.

Emerie Eye Update

At the last follow up appointment for Emerie, the doctor informed us that a second surgery will be necessary. It is less invasive as her first one and will tighten the eye muscles that control her wandering eye. While it is currently scheduled for early October, we are on the weight list for earlier if anything opens up in their schedule. Healing time should be less than the last one and be less painful.

This procedure won’t really correct her eyesight, but it will help her eye focus straighter and potentially help with the dislike of her glasses. Eye patching is becoming more of a stress to her the past month, with Emerie trying to pull it off if you aren’t paying close attention, even with the tape on it. In true excellent Nanny Chris style, she came up with a solution to the glasses wearing during patch time- tape them on too! So far that is working relatively well (and better than no glasses time at all) and we are able to get a few hours in.

Miss Em un-enthusiastically looking at the camera

How does Emerie like it? I’ll let you decide…note the adorable bow over everything…

Thankfully she is a good sport most of the time. This past week Grandma Sue made it her mission to get those glasses to stay on her face; a hard mission but so far so good. She gets more one-on-one time and every kid needs that!

I’m not entirely sure how much of a difference this is all doing on her vision, since the eye is still wandering, but ensuring we patch each day is important and we try to make sure we get some time in. Only time will tell, or once she’s old enough to tell us whether she can see or not. And we aren’t too far from that…everyone is rapidly learning new words already.

Lastly, we may again be in the thick of teething. The past few days everyone is super drooling and grumpy, even with all the extra visitors coming to play. Each set of incoming teeth are consistent, with everyone having two molars in on the left side (top and bottom) and one in on the right with another peeking through the gums. So many teeth!

This long weekend’s mission is a new shed in the backyard and playtime for the kiddos. Fingers crossed the crazy smoke will lift and the air will clear for a more pleasant outside adventures.

Emerie Eye Update: Glasses

Big Emerie Smile

The big day is here. Miss Emerie’s glasses are in; now the real fun begins…trying to get her to actually WEAR them.

We went to Cook Inlet Eyewear, down on 2nd Avenue, a couple weeks back and ordered two pairs of kid glasses. If you haven’t shopped around for pediatric eye wear before, the glasses made nowadays are really cool. They are bendable, some sides snap on and off easily instead of breaking off, and there are a ton of cute colors and styles. Not to mention…they are SO tiny and adorable!!

I was really impressed with the ladies at Cook Inlet. They are very prepared to assist with young kiddos and had a toy box out and ready for tiny tot entertainment. While she explained what type of glasses and lenses would be best for a one-year old, Emerie played with toy dinosaurs and Star Wars figurines; throwing them on the floor and wreaking the usual havoc while making a mess. We also discussed her prescription, which contains a left bifocal in it to help with focusing. Never thought my kiddo would have bifocal before me!

We anticipate a bit of sibling rivalry will occur with Emerie’s new look, so we opted for a second set as a backup. Impressively enough, there were several purple options to choose from, so she now has two different types of purples to keep her fashion trend going!

The past week she has not been thrilled that another thing is on her face in addition to the two hours of daily patching. She’s become much more cranky about the daily patching too; we are unsure why as things were going pretty well with it in July. Nanny Chris greatly helps us with this routine everyday, with “patch time” usually before lunch, around 9:30 or 10 to noon (when she cooperates!). It removes some stress on us later in the day having it done already.

Harper and Reagan now come to their sister’s rescue and help peel it off. It’s a full team effort if you aren’t paying attention every second. Not sure if that’s a good thing for sister bonding, or bad since we have to put on another one!

So far the longest Em has worn the glasses continuously is about 40 minutes. She either remembers they are still on her face and pulls them down, or one of her sisters pries them off. Similarly to the patch, you just have to find distractions so she forgets they are on. Several times I’ve caught Harper pulling Emerie around by the glasses around her neck. Still working on that…

We gave Harper and Reagan strawberry styled sunglasses (thanks Megan!) to wear in lieu of glasses, hoping that they will stop bugging Emerie when she has them on. They like to wear the sunglasses and put them on and off their faces. It’s pretty cute. When I tried this a couple months back, they immediately pulled them off. Now they like to look around while wearing them, at least for a couple minutes at a time.

Emerie’s eye redness continues to slowly vanish and she isn’t rubbing it in irritation nearly as often as right after surgery. The eye still trails a good amount of the time, but hopefully once she wears them more frequently it will improve. We have another appointment in September to evaluate her progress and see what else, if anything, needs to be done. There is potential that a second surgery will be necessary to realign the eye muscles and fix the trailing, but we won’t know that for a little while longer and are hopefully it will resolve itself.

So for now, we continue to put glasses on, she takes them off, we put them on again, and the cycle continues! We are not making a big deal out of her wearing them or pulling them off, hoping eventually she’ll just get used to it. Craig also ordered another back piece to see if it will be more comfortable, and we are still waiting for the second, backup pair to get here. If anyone has any parental advice to getting her to cooperate better, we are all ears (or eyes?)! If you want to come over and have baby time and play and entertain her during patch time, we’d be up for that too!!

We also greatly appreciate all of you that are still praying for her healing and success. ❤ ❤ ❤

Surgery Day

As I start writing this blog, Miss Emerie is in surgery at Alaska Surgery Center with Dr. Winkle, for her left eye lensectomy with placement of intraocular lens.

We were given a pager just like one you receive while waiting for an open dinner table at a restaurant. Sisters are home with the nanny and Grandma.

We had to be at the center by 6 AM and followed instructions of no food or water after midnight, but a bottle of breast milk was allowable before 3:30 AM (four hours prior to surgery). I think it’s really cool that breastmilk doesn’t count as a liquid the same as water does. Typically kids are a little less accommodating when they are hungry; they don’t really care if they are having surgery.

Emerie was a pro this morning and drank a bottle with Craig at about 3:15. Harper and Reagan slept through the whole night without a peep, getting a quick bottle right before we headed out. We loaded up about 5:50 with a wide awake but happy Emerie.

In the waiting room, playing with daddy

After checking in and finishing all the paperwork, Emerie was given Versed to make her calm and drowsy. It worked like a charm! She snuggled and played with her wubbanub and stuffed unicorn. We also broke out her purple moose blanket! She giggled a bit in her “high”, but overall was semi blob like, very different than our normal Emerie!

Happy, high baby

In true triplet style, Dr. Winkle used a purple pen to mark the correct eye! I don’t know if that was intentional or random, but he does have the girls’ colors on their charts.

Total surgery time lasted about 90 minutes. Dr. Winkle came out and told us she did great and everything in her eye was exactly what he had anticipated. He also said this issue was present at birth but the leak that caused the cataract blurriness just occurred later.

It took another almost forty minutes before we went back to post op, which started making me nervous! Of course, the nurse said Emerie was raising hell about the protective eye patch and absolutely refused to leave it on. Sounds about right. We have to continually patch for about a week to protect the eye and incision from infection. Luckily the doctor did the stitches inside the eyelid, which is standard in little kids that want to scratch and rub it.

Post surgery

She was very loopy and tugging at her eye when we got back to post op. She was on a ventilator during surgery so her little cry is completely hoarse and so very sad sounding. After some snuggles and major baby rage, we figured being home would help her relax and loaded up.

We made it home and successfully put on one of her daily patches. I am writing this in the dark in the nursery as she fidgety sleeps on me. Hopefully she’ll be feeling a bit better after a nap. It helps that the house is quiet. Harper and Reagan are headed to some playtime with Daddy and Kerstin picked up the dogs out to burn off some energy.

Thank you everyone for the thoughts, prayers and kind words this week and especially today. It’s going to be a long day but will all be worth it when our tiny girl’s vision improves.