New Sights: An Update on O’s Eyes

O just had a check up at the Ophthalmologist this week. As you may recall from my original vision post, O is seen by the same doctor who treated my husband 30+ years ago. The doctor just moved to a new office not far from the old one… but we felt like we were in a whole new world. The new office was a stark contrast from the old school office we were used too. But I was pleasantly surprised to see that our doc kept his old equipment along with adding all kinds of new technology. Below is his classic set of equipment, followed by the new stuff.     O did a little better at identifying the shapes this time…. because they were actual shapes. His old tests were of a classic desktop telephone, a duck and a stick figure on a bike. Most kids didn’t even know what the phone was! But I also think the thinner lines in these illustrations simplified it for O. O brought along her doctor kit. She often pretends to be looking in our eyes. I’m glad she’s so interested! And she continues to be very cooperative and well behaved for the doc and nurse staff.

Her exam showed that her lense prescription is doing its job and her muscles are responding well to patching. We were told to continue patching the right eye 3 hours each day and an appointment was scheduled for later in the summer. Over all, all is well!

Advertisements

Preschool Valentines

IMG_3932

O doesn’t have a class full of kids to give valentines to yet but I knew she’d get a kick out of making some. I employed good old Pinterest for inspiration and put my own little twist on a common Pinterest Valentine craft.

IMG_3896-0

I asked Hubby to grab a pack of blank (unlined) 4″x 6″ index cards at the grocery store for less than a dollar. I already had red and white craft paint and was recycling toilet paper roll so the grad total for this craft is just a buck!

IMG_3897-1

I folded the toilet paper roll into a heart and swirled some red and white paint onto a recycled lid. The rest was up to O. And she went to town!

IMG_3912

She stamped her little heart out (har har) and made nearly 30 valentines! The twist that I threw in was to make them into postcards to mail to our friends. I just drew a line down the center, wrote notes on the left and addresses on the right and then used postcard stamps that I had left over from our Christmas postcards. I’m pretty sure our friends and family loved receiving these. Who doesn’t like to get mail!?

IMG_3913

xo

 

Painting While Patching

We finally have more updates on O’s Ophthalmology appointments to share! You may recall that she is farsighted (Rx: L +4.5 & R +4.00) with accommodative esotropia and amblyopia in her left eye. If you’re new to my blog you can read more about O’s condition and how we figured it out here, here and here.

We hadn’t had an appointment since March so we couldn’t wait to see how things were shaping up for her. We went last week to see what kind of progress she was making with her patching. We had been patching “as needed” an hour or two on each eye, depending which one seemed to have “weaker” muscles demonstrated by intermittent crossing of the weak eye. There is no real formula on how to determine how long a kid needs to patch… so even the doctors use educated guesses and trial and error to see what is working for her. The doc seemed to think she was responding very well to patching and is showing progress (verses regression or no change) in her strength. So good news! We continue daily patching for 3 hours on her right eye (strengthening her left).

Also, the exams are getting easier as time goes on. She is more cooperative, knows what to expect and is super excited to go to our appointments. But that last one may be based on the fact that we promise donuts. Hey, you do what works! Her appointments are easier for us too. Since she is less resistant and there is less crying, squirming and holding her down, then we don’t feel stressed or guilty about the situation. I personally am less anxious about the entire vision situation for her. In part because I’ve educated myself on her individual condition, possible outcomes and treatments and such. It’s much less unknown and so I’ve really had an easier time with it lately. I also credit a facebook group called “Little Four Eyes” for helping me through. It’s an online support group of sorts for parents of children in glasses. It has been a great place to compare notes, swap stories and pictures and find deals on patches. I also have found great gratitude for our situation. O has a considerably minor and easy to treat condition. Some of these kids are dealing with much more difficult or unusual diagnoses. Cataracts, glaucoma, strabismus, and so many things I’d never even heard of. Some have been through multiple surgeries already in their short little lives. I’ve realized how simple her condition is to treat and am so thankful we have the means to help her overcome it. We are blessed with great insurance and the added bonus of vision insurance, access to amazing professionals as well as consistent paychecks to help us pay for it all.

20140807-083152-30712084.jpg

We’ve been embracing patch time with O. She’s moved on from her recent playdoh obsession to now loving paint. She’s been watching me paint forever and I recently gave her brushes that she pretends to paint with all the time. My sister came over the other day and brought along paint and canvas. O was in heaven! We stripped her down (since this is acrylic), spotted several coordinating colors on each one and let her go to town. This way there wouldn’t be a muddy mix of colors since we kept them in the same family (pink, blue, purple and white) and we did it again with blue, green, yellow and white.

20140807-083154-30714896.jpg

We loved watching her paint. She was concentrated and intent with each stroke. I could tell she was taking pride in her work.

20140807-083156-30716873.jpg

She made two masterpieces. Once for our house. I think it may even end up on the gallery wall! And another for her grandparents.

20140807-083157-30717712.jpg

O had so much fun that she even stopped caring about being messy! Usually she has a paper towel by her side during every meal and craft. But today she let loose and jumped right in. Below is her forearm, complete with gold bangle bracelet and paint. We call her “Baby GotRocks,” you know!

20140807-083158-30718510.jpg

 

 

Anything For A Donut

20140308-130155.jpg

O just had her first appointment at the Ophthalmologist in a while (since November I think). This was actually only her third visit. If you recall, her first trip was quite an ordeal as far as cooperation goes. But we learned lots, got her script and ordered the glasses. I wrote a post on all that we had learned about O’s prescription, condition and what exactly happens during the vision examination of a toddler here. Her second trip was to evaluate the effectiveness of her prescription and explore the possibility of patching (which we were instructed to do 4 hours per day on the right eye). After a few weeks of patching, we found that her other eye crossed and were told to scale down our patching hours and alternate eyes. That happened nearly in tandem with the free replacement of O’s Miraflex frames due to significant fading.  I wrote about both here.

At this appointment we were there to see how well her left eye had been responding to the patching of the right eye. O had been patching since November and we had been told over the phone (not an actual visit with the doctor) to scale down and alternate patching. By the time we visited the Ophthalmologist this week, we had taken patching to one hour per day on the right eye (to exercise the left) and patched the left eye only on an as-needed basis. The doctor was thrilled with the results! O’s left eye had responded extremely well to patching and we will continue to patch the right eye 1 hour daily with occasional patching on the left. He did say to increase the occasional patching on the left eye to 2-3 hours when we do decide its needed so that it’s just a little more effective. This is all good news! Basically, the brain is choosing to use the left eye almost as often as the right and has been learning not to favor one eye over another. This way, both eyes are being used fairly evenly and are therefore working together with each other as well as the brain. Because the brain is choosing to use both eyes so often, then the muscles that keep O’s eyes straight are working hard and staying strong. Since those muscles are being used then they aren’t getting weak! So it is unlikely that O will have a “lazy eye” or Amblyopia. See, this is not just a vision issue… It’s a vision, muscular and neurological thing. And we need to get that trifecta working together in perfect harmony. Um, kind of like juggling… or a symphony.

By the way, my kid was completely cooperative and happy during every moment of the appointment. The nurses were shocked at her impeccable behavior and I was proud. I kind of felt like a magician. Wanna know how we got O to be a perfect angel for all of this? Well, since our past appointments were tough on her as well as us, we started prepping her a few days ahead. We talked about going to the doctor and all the things we will do there. She showed me how she would put her glasses on/off to let him see her eyes and I talked about how she might get to see a flashlight so he can look in her eyes. She was especially excited when we reminded her of “the puppy”… our doc has a stuffed animal in the corner that barks and moves when he flips a switch. It is used to get kids to look in a particular direction and focus on things at a distance while he examines. But we were worried that practicing just wasn’t enough. Considering that each time we had been there before, not only had O cried but so had I; we needed motivation. Let me tell you something about our little O: she’s quite determined. Tell her she can’t do something? She will. Remind her that she can have dessert after those green beans are gone and she’ll shove all of them in her mouth at once. What does O love more than ANYTHING in the whole wide world? More than m&m’s, more than puppies, more than shoes, more than going to school to get Z? Donuts. We may or may not have bribed our kid with donuts. With the simple mention of donuts she actually couldn’t wait to get to her appointment. And as soon as we walked in, she told the nursing staff, “I go to the donut store”… and each time the doctor was finished with one portion of the exam she would say, “All done! Go to donut store now please?” and she didn’t forget. She didn’t let us forget either. We talked about donuts non-stop, on repeat for the whole exam, all through check out, into the car and while buckling. We had a 10-15 minute drive to our old neighborhood in town where we get coffee and see our friends. All the way there, “I so excited! Go to donut store!” All. The. Way. There. There is only one place this family buys donuts. Busken Bakery is our jam. The headquarters/commissary is just a block from our old coffee shop. O knew where we were as soon as we pulled in. She clapped with excitement and fought to get out of her carseat faster than I could unbuckle her. The absolute best thing in the whole world is witnessing the look of shear joy on your own child’s face. In fact, it makes me forget the 9 months of morning sickness and 3 days of labor… for like a minute. When we walked into Busken, O radiated sheer happiness and politely ordered “My donut, please,” as if the woman behind the counter knew how long she had been waiting for it and how well behaved and brave she had been this morning. Like that lady had been waiting all day long for her to walk in a reward her with that heavenly donut. She even got her own bag for her very own donut. Pssst- We only let her eat half today after telling her it was gone. So there is more in the bag to surprise her with tomorrow.

At any rate, we are proud of our little O for being so good about keeping her glasses on and even asking for them every morning when she wakes up. She is a trooper when she has the patch on and a tough cookie when we take it off (like a band-aid… ouch!). And boy, oh boy does she rock those little pink rectangular frames… everyone thinks she’s a little fashionista with her skinny jeans, hipster frames and ponytail!

I’ll leave you with this picture of O napping during Z’s soccer practice the other day. How funny is her squishy face? She slept like that for an hour in a noisy gym. I enjoyed every moment of her on my chest.

20140308-130204.jpg

Things I’m Loving

Every month I post about things I’m loving… sometimes it is real life stuff, style, decor, fellow blogs and so on. So here is a grab-bag of things I’m loving lately.

In Life:

20140216-111550.jpg

My amazing “Aunt Kathy” of York’s Corks (actually my dad’s cousin but we are close so she earns the “Aunt” title) was going through a box of family stuff and sent me this incredibly detailed frame embroidery by my Great Grandmother “Gram Corc.” I love it for its obvious sentimental value and history. Not to mention the craftsmanship and time this must have taken! I’m not yet sure where to hang it… It could be a cool piece to add to the gallery wall in our foyer espcially with that black background! Or perhaps it could add an interesting pop elsewhere (half bath? or guest room?). Decisions, decisions!

20140216-111335.jpg

Speaking of the foyer gallery wall… it happens to be the background against my next “love”… fresh hydrangeas! I promise I didn’t do that on purpose. Anyway, when we go grocery shopping everyone gets a “spurge”… sometimes it is something unhealthy (poptarts!) or indulgent (wine for me) or just a total perk like flowers. In the midst of our gloomy, frigid winter I have been so excited to “splurge” on flowers. Then I break them into several small vases and scatter them throughout the house, literally bringing life into each room!

20140216-111235.jpg

Oh yes, dessert. Hubby and I went on our Valentine’s date during a blizzard. That’s how good our favorite place is. Everything on the menu is fantastic so saving room for dessert is difficult. But we look forward to dessert as much as we do the rest of the meal so on our way in, we pass the dessert bar and choose two pieces to be held for us… you know, in case everyone else knows how amazing the homemade confections are. Here we have an Old Fashioned Chocolate Cake and a Classic Red Velvet cake. Both were divine… I may or may not have reenacted the famous cafe scene from When Harry Met Sally.

20140216-111009.jpg

On a separate outing, we went bowling for a friend’s surprise 30th birthday party. I feel like just yesterday we were still celebrating 21st birthdays. So, we’re not so young anymore I guess. What a fun time! Hubby and I realized 4 things: 1- We had never been bowling together before. 2- Hubby is a really good bowler. 3- I am an embarrassingly bad bowler. 4- The style of bowling shoes haven’t changed in 50+ years.

With O:

20140227-204106.jpg

O got new play shoes. Not just any play shoes: Converse Chuck Taylor sneakers. I grabbed them at Target for less that $20!

20140227-204114.jpg

The good news: she loves them. The bad news: she loves them too much.

20140227-204123.jpg

When I first turned the corner into the shoe section she gasped “SHOOOOOOES!” And I gleamed with pride that my girl loves shoes. And then I realized this might be a really bad (expensive) habit if we don’t keep it in check. Haha! Anyway, she wouldn’t let me take off her other shoes. I had to pry her other shoes off while she screamed “No! My Toms! Mommy! MY. TOMS.” I had to explain that she would get to keep her shoes and buy new ones. She’s been wearing her Chucks since. Like every minute. She even wants to sleep in them (um, no.) and calls them her “Chuckies.” Oy, I’ve created a monster.

20140227-204133.jpg

We had a freak spurt of nice Spring weather. O and her friend H graffiti-ed our entire porch and sidewalk with their chalk art. We had tons of fun and lots of laughs. Too bad their masterpieces are now covered in snow and ice. What a tease… We are all looking forward to more sun and warmth.

20140227-204151.jpg

O asked me to tuck her bear in and give her some books. Then I sat in the hall and listened to her read to him and sing “Happy Birthday.” Just too much cuteness.

20140227-204339.jpg

And I can’t forget O’s new favorite hiding spot: behind the couch and the curtain. 

On Pinterest:

Winter seems eternal this year. But I’ve been eyeing tons of pink fashion, home decor and jewelry to brighten my days and pull me through these gray winter days. Pink pinterest boards gives me hope.

PINK

Source

20140227-205831.jpg

Source: Pinterest

Visit my Pinterest board inspired completely by my love for my daily grind.

On other blogs:

Brunch with KT of Nerdy Girl Writes. I’ve had the pleasure of an actual real life brunch date with this nerdy girl, but for those of you who aren’t so lucky her “Sunday Brunch” posts will have to suffice. Poke around! She has tons of post on decor, fashion and suggestions for good reads.

Nutella Brownies on Cup Of Jo. This woman speaks my language in so many ways. Nutella is my favorite!

PSSSsssssttt: Get 20% off any purchase over $10 at my etsy shop by entering SPRING20 at check out. Good thru 4/1/14

To Via On Her Second Birthday

Our sweet little O turned two last week. As trite as it sounds, the time really does fly. I can remember my pregnancy and her birth as if it were yesterday (but I’ll spare you the details). Although the time flies, I also can’t believe how much can happen and change in another year. I thought I’d write a letter to her and share a few memories and thoughts here on my little corner of the Internet.

20140108-111100.jpg

Dear Via,

In the last year you have learned to talk and walk. We’ve had the joy of watching you discover the world a little more each day. You got to put her feet in the sand in Hilton Head and enjoy the feeling of salt water wash over your feet to which you exclaimed, “Bubbles!” as loud as you could manage.

IMG_4311

We took you to the Magical Kingdom in Disney World this year.  You were so excited to experience Minnie, or “Mimmie” as you call her, and Mickey and all of the princesses. And we loved watching you take it all in. Your favorite character was the White Rabbit from Alice in Wonderland because he had glasses just like you do! On the 4th of July we took you to see your first fireworks show. We were completely prepared for you to be scared and have to go home in the middle of all of it. But you loved them and were so brave during the finale!

20131115-212932.jpg

You began mimicking us more and more this year. You started carrying a “pursh” (purse) like me and kicking a soccer ball around like Daddy. You like to brush your hair and put on “make-uk” (make-up) so much that we have given you a few pretend beauty sets and even one of my old compacts! You even laugh when we laugh and have become a parrot who repeats snippets of our conversations. Sometimes we have fun with this and teach you to say silly things like “Hot Mama!” or “What does a fox say?” (like the song). You have quite the sense of humor. In fact, you often throw your head back and laugh before you’re even finished saying or doing something funny. Don’t worry, we think you’re hilarious too. You are full of personality, constantly entertaining everyone you meet with your banter and giggles.

20131124-211023.jpg 20140114-134800.jpg

In a strange twist, you spent the first year and a half of your life only seeing accurately at a distance. For quiet a while you had trouble seeing up close (you’re farsighted in both eyes) and hadn’t even seen your own face in a mirror you were nearly 20 months. We were delighted to watch you rediscover the world through glasses. I’m still flabbergasted at all of the things you weren’t able to see and how well you see now. And I still get teary eyed watching you play in the mirror or look at yourself on Facetime. Additionally, Daddy and I are so grateful that we have access to medical care and the means to get you what you need and help you see as well as possible. And we are constantly amazed at what science can do… I mean, they can look into your eyes and see what the issue is and how to fix it without you being able to tell them anything on your own yet. That’s really cool. And we are so happy to be able to do this for you… and we can tell you’re happy to see.

20140111-203146.jpg

This year was full of experiments for you as far as food. When we neared your first birthday we began giving you milk… only to find that you had some funky skin issues and insane dryness when you were consuming cow’s milk. Through a series of doctors’ visits, blood tests, allergy tests and consumption challenges we were able to weed through quite a few issues: peanuts, eggs, milk, dogs and cats. You have sensitivities to peanuts (it came up in blood and skin tests) but you passed (meaning little or no reaction) an in-office peanut butter consumption challenge so you are allowed to eat it now! Egg allergies came up in all of those test too. The doctors determined that your “numbers” are low enough that it is not dangerous and you are allowed to eat baked eggs (another consumption challenge) that are diluted with lots of other ingredients and baked well. But you can’t have straight egg in any form (so hard boiled, breakfast eggs, quiche and meringue are out). The same process showed us that you are also allergic to dairy. Again, your “numbers” are low so you after another consumption challenge you were okayed to eat baked dairy and cheese. We’ll be starting yogurt soon but we plan on keeping you off milk for a while since it makes you obviously miserable. Otherwise, you love carrots, green beans, hummus, pastas, applesauce, smoovies (smoothies) chicken, turkey, oreos, m&m’s, grapes, bananas and so much more!

I recently had to write a “bio” for you for another project… it proved to be quite a challenge but it got me thinking about fun facts.

Calls herself “Via” rather thank Olivia or Liv
Stats: 33 inches tall, 27.4 lbs. Blond hair, brown eyes. Gorgeous smile. Thumb sucker.
Loves: Elmo, Minnie Mouse, animals (especially dogs), coloring with crayons, playdoh, bubbles, sidewalk chalk, zoo, walks.
Loves: singing the ABC’s, Happy Birthday and any tons of songs you make up on the spot.
Also likes dress ups and calls anything she thinks is pretty “Oh woo, woo!” She also loves to “bounce” on anything possible including Mommy’s exercise ball, beds and her very own trampoline.
Olivia’s favorite toys include her play kitchen where she whips up toddler culinary masterpieces and her “bikes”… basically any outside toy with wheels.
Frequent hang-outs: the corner (aka time-out), the coffee shop (where she charms regulars and newbies alike), Kroger shopping cart, the park.
This post could go in for infinity. But the point is that you are growing and changing into a more and more interesting little person everyday. And we just love everything about you and can’t wait to see who you become in life.
Love you bigger than the sky,
Mommy

Snow Day Salt Dough

The other day O and I had an unexpected snow day. Hubby worked in the morning and my already short day at work got cancelled all together. I took the opportunity to do a little toddler holiday craft with her. And you guys, I turned to Pinterest. Surprise! Having done salt dough before with kids, I basically knew what I wanted to do but I needed the recipe.

20131207-173519.jpg

All the recipes were mostly the same. Here is what I found over and over on Pinterest:

1 cup salt

2 cups flour

1 cup warm water

Optional: powdered tempura paint or food coloring to add color.

Mix all in one bowl. I started string with a spoon and quickly realized my Kitchen Aid dough hook would have been perfect for the job. After it was well blended I just dove in with my hands. The more you knead it the smoother it gets.

Bake at 200F for 20-45 minutes depending on thickness or dry overnight.

20131206-123639.jpg

I rolled it out on wax paper, used a cup as a cookie cutter to make circles the right size for O’s hands. Then I helped her make her hand print on each cut out. This is where there were tears. Apparently the kid thought these were cookies and she was really excited about cookies… but then I had to burst her bubble. She just wouldn’t accept that they weren’t cookies. So Mom of the Year over here let her take a bite and she was really disappointed that these were not cookies.

20131206-123654.jpg

After she made about 15 prints, I made holes  for a hanger and we left them to dry. I let them dry overnight (as my Pinterest sources repeatedly recommended) but I found them to still be soft, damp and still a little malleable. So I popped them in the oven as many of the sources also recommended. Um, no. NO. No. no. 20 minutes? Nope. 45 minutes? Nope. Try MOST OF THE DAY. I just kept peeking in on them. Not only did they not dry quickly… I realized they weren’t drying evenly. The bottom side that faced the pan was still wet halfway through the day! So I flipped them. And I continued to keep an eye on them. I lost track of exactly how long they were in there but they did eventually dry.

I had originally thought I’d spray paint them silver (a color I knew I had on hand) but I stumbled upon another idea on Pinterest to paint the hand print to look like Santa.

20131208-204846.jpg

I used acrylic craft paint that I already had. I’ve broken Santa down into steps above. To be honest, I did these in stages… between laundry, dishes and a tv show’s commercials. An hour maybe total. My only flaw was that I had already punched the holes. Santa will be hanging sideways… but that is ok with me. I was having fun and really considered adding glasses to Santa as a little tribute to O but decided it might be too challenging and time consuming. I sharpied her name and the year on the back. These will be given to great grandparents, grandparents, aunts/uncles and special people over the next few days. If you’re one of these people… pretend you never saw this! Of course, ours already hangs on our tree!

20131208-204556.jpg

Better Than Hallmark

I used to roam greeting card stores and think “I could do that”. I love the messages, sweet poems and clever puns on them. I think it might be where my love of design and typography came from. I would spend tons of money on a bunch of cards that just caught my eye… and I often didn’t even have a recipient in mind. I’d just keep them to pull from when an occassion came up or if I needed to send a thank you or something. But started playing with making my own cards and bought a bunch of blank ones at Michael’s on clearance ages ago. They have lasted me a long time. Recently O started to show interest in coloring. And of course feed her interest with coloring books, crayons, an easel and such. I think I can handle having a little artist on my hands. When we were invited to a birthday party I realized O could make the card!

I just used my blank cards and a silver marker to write “Happy Birthday”. I knew crayon wouldn’t conceal the silver marker but I think black or another color could work as well.

20131124-211046.jpg

I gave O some crayons and let her loose on the card. Coloring is a really good exercise for when she is patching. While patching, it is best if she focusses and follows things that are close to her (since she is farsighted). Anyway, she obviously loved coloring. She hasn’t yet chosen a dominate hand to use. Can you tell? Her current style is just hashing the paper over and over with the crayon. She hasn’t become interested in making shapes or anything but she loves all the colors. And I think orange might be the favorite. And no, I’m never letting her paint her room orange like my mom let me because I had to paint over it and it was torture.

20131124-211037.jpg

This kept her busy for about 20 minutes which impressed me. She was having so much fun that it I let her do a Thanksgiving card for my Grandma. I traced her hand and made a little turkey and then she colored all over… I wish I had gotten a picture of it.

20131124-211057.jpg

When she was finished we had a homemade birthday card for her friend Riley who was turning 6 that weekend. She too is a little artist and I had a blast shopping for her gift with O. We got her practically one of everything from the Crayola section at Target…..everything I would have wanted as a 6 year old artist. Riley squealed when she opened the pad of art paper. Her mom chuckled at how much joy she got from paper… but I remember being thrilled to use real art paper rather than the stuff I stole out of my dad’s giant laser printer at his office. Riley and I are a lot alike.

20131124-211105.jpg

So there you have it. A simple homemade card with a little more meaning. It doesn’t hurt that it entertained my toddler for so long AND it was during patch time.

Posh Patching

20131110-204654.jpg

O had another appointment at her Pediatric Ophthalmologist to check up on how her glasses are working for her. You can read my post about O, her condition and our experiences in Pediatric Opthalmology here. The doctor was impressed with how well she has adjusted to her glasses and even more impressed with how much she embraces her “dasses” as she calls them. Not only does she leave them on, but she will adjust them for comfort or wiggle them on her face to be funny. My favorite part of the appointment was when the doctor was using a light to guide her eyes in different directions and O was opening her mouth saying “Ahhh!”. She went to the dentist with me the other day and the hygienist had her sit and watch my cleaning while she explained each step so that next time O can have a smooth first dentist visit. At the dentist’s visit, we taught her to open her mouth wide and say “Ahhh”… so she obviously was paying attention. Too bad she applied it at the wrong doctor’s office but it made me laugh!

The results of the visit were fairly simple. First, her glasses are working well for her. She seems comfortable with them and the prescription seems right. Also, her left eye is responding to the prescription (meaning its not crossing as much when she is wearing her glasses).  Second, there is room for improvement. Her left eye is the weak eye (with the +4.50 prescription and the esotropia/crossing) and could still use some strengthening. So the doctor wants her to “patch” for 4 hours a day until our next appointment in March. Patching means she will have her strong eye (in her case the right eye) covered with either a cloth patch over the glasses or a sticky band-aid style patch directly over the eye. Covering the strong eye will give the weak eye (her left) an opportunity to strengthen itself and encourage the brain to utilize the weaker left eye.

Fortunately, O has been cooperative wearing the patch. Although we’ve only done it twice so far, she hasn’t attempted to rip it off. The first time I put it on her I tried to make it fun. She likes to play with my make up brushes so while we were playing with the brushes and tickling each others cheeks, I took out the sticky patch and presented it to her. I put it on over her eye while we were looking in the mirror. I let her touch it and fiddle with it for a moment and then I slipped her glasses on so she could see herself in the mirror. Her response was “Oh, woo woo!” which in our house means “So pretty!” …For me I felt like that was a success. She was physically comfortable AND she felt like she looked pretty. Don’t get me wrong, her being pretty isn’t what is important. What is important is that she didn’t feel like she looks different than her usual self or funny. It doesn’t hurt that the sticky patches are printed with fun designs so it’s like a pretty new shirt for her. You can see an example in the photo above. I did give a feeble attempt to have her try the fabric patch over the glasses but she repeatedly just tore her glasses off. To me, thats a fail. It seemed easier to get her used to the patch and then put the glasses on over it. I also think that the sticky patch is less irritating because it stays still on the face, whereas the fabric one moves a little as she smiles, talks and plays so she feels it against her skin more.

Overall things are going well for her and I’ve been told by several professionals and friends who have had similar experiences that realizing her condition so early and treating at such young age is a huge advantage.

Preschooler Play and Toddler To Do’s

A while back a friend asked me what kinds of things I do with kids on the cheap and with a baby in the house. It is always a challenge to keep older siblings busy while you are strapped to house by baby naps, and forced to be quiet. Cold winter days and rainy spring afternoons only make this harder. Another challenge for many of us is the cost of so many activities, outings and toys. I’ve compiled a list of simple thrills for kids up to 5 years old. Most don’t cost much money… and I really believe in making memories with kids. They won’t remember the stuff and much as they remember doing things together. Kind of like at Christmas… O loved all the wrapping paper and boxes and barely noticed most of the gifts. While diapers are expensive, kids only cost as much at you let them cost.

I mean, look at this face.

IMG_0014

Stamps and Stickers: A&Z both loved stamping all over a pad of newsprint. I bought a bunch in the clearance bins at Michael’s and the dollar store. Melissa and Doug sell a few little sets too. Also, look for “foamies”… Little foam stickers. Paper isn’t the only place for stickers. I’ve let them decorate their art boxes, shoe boxes and all kids of things with stickers. Its amzing how much time kids can spend with this activity. For younger kids it can be an opportunity to idenify animals, shapes and expand vocabulary. For older kids it provides a creative outlet and can spark a little imagination.

Crayons: Have you seen those Crayola crayon holders for little hands? Huge help to get him going on controlling a crayon. Larger and thicker crayons can be easier for little hands too. Talk about colors, shapes, even start some letter recognition.

Recycled Crayons: Preschoolers love this one. We keep old crayon nubs and broken pieces of crayons around for a while. Eventually we dig them out of the crayon tub and separate them from the useable ones. Then I let the kids make piles of the nubby crayons in a muffin tin (mini muffin tins are best because it doesn’t take as much to fill them and the crayons you make become thicker). The piles don’t have to match or have any of the same colors… you really can’t do this wrong. Then I place the muffin tin in a 250 degree oven and check on them every 5 minutes or so. When the crayons have melted to liquid I slowly remove the tin from the oven… hot liquid wax is dangerous. Then we let them cool for an hour or so and pop out our new recycle crayons! The shape is easy for kids to hold and when they use them they are coloring with a rainbow or tie dye effect. For older kids I ask them to make observations about what might happen before we put them in the oven and the happened after and why they think it. Doesn’t hurt to add a little science to it!

Go Big: Another big hit is a bunch of giant sheets of paper and a long roll of paper I bought from Ikea. Z still loves to have me draw roads and tracks for his cars and trains …and with a roll of paper they can go on forever! We have made signs with giant messages to welcome new cousins to the world and then we took pictures with the kids holding it and sent them in texts or posted them online for family. You can make birthday signs for each person’s birthday to hang in a doorway, or welcome them home from a trip. We also trace hands, toys, do leaf rubbings, and he thinks its way cool that we lay on the floor to draw. The possibilities are endless!

Playdoh: I probably don’t need to tell you that it is amazing. We have tons of it and to be honest you only need a few colors and a couple of the utensils. If you don’t want to buy any try this recipe I posted a while back for homemade dough. Big kids love measuring and making it. And everyone loves playing with it. As far as what to use for utensils: stamps work on playdoh, kitchen utensils like a butter knife or whisk, anything with texture, cups, cookie cutters, ice trays and the list goes on. Playing with dough is great for small motor skills, imagination and sensory development. I actually find it relaxing myself.

Nature Walks: Give kids a bag to “collect” anything he thinks is cool on a walk. Bring them home and talk about all the things he found, the season, animals, rocks… Whatever. This always sparks conversation. “I Spy”, “Follow the Leader” and “Simon Says” are also a fun games for a nature walk. Don’t live near a trail? So what… a walk down the sidewalk or through a park is just as exciting. Even if it’s snowing a 15 minute walk and fresh air can cure cabin fever. I’ve also had older kids help me make a list of things we think we may find and then make it more of a scavenger hunt for them.

Make Wishes: I keep pennies in my car for making wishes in fountains we pass by. Sometimes we make a point of finding a fountain to make a wish in. We count our pennies, observe the years on them, and close our eyes and wish reeeeally hard.

Storytime: You can’t read to a kid enough. Go to the library and get new and unfamiliar books often. Make your own storytime… we cuddle up in a blanket and read all of our books as soon as we get home. And do it again a few times a week. This often suffices as “rest” for kids who no longer nap but still need some chill out time midday. Check your library’s and local bookstore’s schedules. Many of them have regular story time, music play and such for free!

Puzzles: Those wooden ones with pegs are great. Most kids can do some large piece ones, and anything with the alphabet. Use the Go Big method above to make your own puzzles. If your kids get tired of puzzles or have them all memorized consider swapping puzzles with friends for a couple of weeks. Fresh puzzles for everyone!

Play House: Have a “picnic” with pretend food, “cook” and stuff too. Let the kids lead the way. They love being in charge and telling us what to do for once. It’s always interesting to hear their perception of roles in the household too. I”ve heard kids say, “We need to go to Target. Can you be on your best behavior?” or “I’m going to drop the kids at school and go get coffee.” They can do this for hours!

Build A Fort: This is a great exercise for problem solving, imagination and creativity. Building the fort is a blast and using it is fun too. Consider reading books, doing puzzles or “hiding out” in the fort. Kids think I’m a genius when we do this.

Inside Picnics: We eat lunch somewhere besides the kitchen table. We have done it in a fort, at the coffee table, under the kitchen table, with his stuffed animals, on the front porch, in the tailgate of my SUV. Anywhere.

PJ Day: Let the kids wear their PJ’s all day. Even go to the grocery store with them on. They think its so silly and funny. On this day we also do breakfast for lunch. Pancakes for lunch is always a hit!

Make Noise: (Ok- not too much). Have concerts with paper towel and toilet paper tubes, tissue boxes. Filling baby food jars or pop bottles with beans, rice and pasta makes great “instruments”. None of them make too much noise though.

Scavenger Hunt in a Bottle: Fill a clear soda bottle about halfway with rice. Drop in random objects to “find” in the rice. Think crayons, beads, paperclips, pennies, bouncy ball… anything that will fit in the hole and you won’t miss. The more rice in the bottle, the harder it is to find the objects. Seal the bottle (I always add super glue to avoid disasters) and start searching. Kids can roll the bottle every which way to find the objects.

Pipe Cleaners: The possibilities are endless! String large wooden beads on them (more motor skills!), or make a macaroni necklace, build a house (in my case a Bat Cave for Batman), bracelets,

Penne Picasso: Glue pasta on paper. So simple- he can’t mess it up, there is no paint and its inexpensive! Use pasta to make necklaces on yarn to to decorate a shoe box.

Ball Pit: Ikea, Target and other big box stores sell those plastic balls for ball pits. Put them in a pack n play or crib for an instant ball party. This never gets old. And when he’s done he can help you clean them up. For bigger kids let them fill as small room.

Cooking and Baking: Let kids help prepare their meals. From choosing a plate and utensils and setting the table to letting them stir and teaching them to measure. You’ll be surprised how happy they are to help. They really do like a little responsibility! And preparing food together makes time for a good little conversation. It’s often the only way I can get the “What did you do at school today?” question answered. You can also teach them about their food and where it comes from along with encouraging trying new foods and making them aware of a having healthy diet.

Sink or Float: Gather some household items to see if they sink or float. Use a baby pool or bucket outside or use the bathroom tub. Have kids guess which will happen and why. A fun one is a Diet Coke can vs a Coke can. Apples are heavier and most kids think it will sink but they float. Try to stump each other!