Thursday, December 11, 2008

And the Classic Elf Dance...

Couldn't resist doing another one...
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Alivia the Christmas Elf

I played around with this a bit last year--it's really cute. This year they've added a couple new dances for your elves. Here's one of my favorites starring none other than my own dearest Alivia...

Send your own ElfYourself eCards

Sunday, December 07, 2008

Happy Holidays!

I realize it's been forever (well, since September anyway) since I've had any time to post and I do apologize! This has been an incredibly hectic term at work and we've also been busy with Alivia's doctor appointments, vacation travel, and, of course, Livi's school.

This week I'm wrapping up three of the four classes I had on my teaching schedule for this term. I can't believe how much work it was keeping up with the grading and the discussion boards for these classes! It's been really crazy! I'm hoping things will slow down at least a bit after the new year... Since Spring is generally my busiest time at work, we'll just have to wait and see how that works out! Ha!

Back in October we went on a wonderful cruise with my parents and some of our friends who are also families formed by adoption--the group we get together with each year in St. Louis. Alivia, Grace and Kelly all got along great, as usual, and had a wonderful time! We did a dolphin encounter that was so much fun for the girls! We moms all tried scuba diving--tried is the operative word there. Let's just say that it's not a hobby I'm going to be taking up. I did okay during the initial training session, but when it came to the deep water dive, my ears wouldn't clear and I couldn't go down past about 15 feet. I ended up injuring one of my ear drums and I never did get what I would call "comfortable" being under water like that. I'd much rather stay in the boat and drink margaritas...

Alivia is still loving school. She adores her teachers and get's excited every morning when it's time to leave. And she's got a boyfriend! She and one of the boys in her class, Brandon, are "an item". It's so funny to watch them together. They insist on sitting by each other at lunch, they play together, talk all the time... it's the cutest thing! He's in a wheelchair (cerebral palsy, I believe) and let's her climb all over him and ride with him on the back of his chair. They're just adorable together. Even the teachers comment on it all the time.

We are dealing with some behavioral issues at school, though. Livi just can't seem to resist biting. We're trying some new ideas to try to nip her nipping, but so far we aren't seeing much success. We actually have a team of about eight people working on this right now! She also likes to pull hair, but they've given the other kids hats to wear which seems to block that activity pretty well.

She also has difficulty sitting still and paying attention and the teacher has asked about having her medicated for ADHD, but we're not going to go that route. Livi's still having problems gaining weight and the drugs for ADHD kill the appetite. Not the direction we want to go for her at all! I think her attention span can be managed by behavior therapy so we're working on that right now, too. Academically, Livi is doing well, it's just the behavioral stuff that's a problem at the moment.

I got Livi's holiday photos done--and I'm delighted with how they turned out! She can photograph so beautifully! She's still so tiny that most people are shocked to find out she's almost 3 and half years old now. Of course, in photos it's hard to tell how small she is, but she's still wearing 18 month sizes in most things. She's the smallest kid in her class--and probably always will be.

I decided not to do a Santa photo this year, although Livi has been to see Santa twice. She never seems to photograph well in those rushed kind of situations. She really needs a photographer who can take his/her time with her and then we can get wonderful photos like these. I'm looking forward to the photogenic baby contest again this year for that very reason. The photographers they use really seem to know how to engage the kids and the photos we got from them last year were great!

Mom, Dad, Livi and I are planning a little jaunt up to Savannah over the holidays. We're going to go to Lady and Sons Restaurant and tour the historic district. That will be a nice little break. Otherwise we plan to take it easy and relax. I've got all my Christmas shopping done--most of it was done online--and now I just have to get everything put together and wrapped. I'm SO looking forward to Christmas this year! Livi is now starting to "get the hang of it" so to speak. She loves seeing Santa and is excited about getting presents. It's going to be so much fun!

~ Jeana

Thursday, September 04, 2008

September Already?

Where did the summer go?

Alivia, contrary to all my fears, absolutely LOVES school! She hasn't cried one single day at this school, and she cried EVERY day when I took her to daycare. It's a nice change! She's also getting chattier every day and mastering new skills, too! She's even started singing along with the music in the car! (I've been trying to get her to do that for months!)

I'm busier than a postman at Christmas these days--I'm teaching three classes (with a fourth to be added in November) in addition to my regular 9-5 stuff. Plus there's all the post-storm cleanup and the storms just seem to keep coming and coming. Thankfully Hanna has stayed off shore, but Ike looks rather threatening at the moment. And I'm hoping the storms will die down by the time of our cruise in just one month.

These lovely photos were taken by my friend Justin at different times over the last few months. The one on the train is from July 4th when we went downtown to see the fireworks. The others are from a few weeks ago at the zoo. If it's nice enough this weekend I'm going to try to take Livi to the zoo again. She loves it there! The last couple days have been a little more pleasant with comfortable temps and only a little rain. Here's hoping that holds for a few more days.

Mom and I have already figured out Livi's Halloween costume for this year. She's going to be a ballerina. She has the cutest little tutu outfit. We also picked up a Princess Belle (Disney's Beauty and the Beast) gown for her, but it's a bit too big. It should do well next year, though! Of course, by then I hope to have a few other Disney costumes for her, too. Playing dress up is so much fun!

~ Jeana

Monday, August 18, 2008

First Day of School

Today was Alivia's first day of school! Granted, she's in a Pre-K3 program, but it is at the regular elementary school with kids all the way to 5th grade! She's probably the tiniest student at the school. We took the obligatory first day of school photo--Livi wasn't too excited about having her picture taken first thing in the morning... Dropping her off for the first day was a lot harder on me than on her, too. She seemed enthralled with the new sights and people. Gran and Papa picked her up after school and said she was happy to see them (translation--she was more than ready to go HOME.) We'll see how she acts when I drop her off tomorrow... I have a feeling it won't go quite as smoothly as today did.

Here's another photo from our trip to St. Louis last month. Livi was in her element playing tea party! I think purple is a pretty good color for her, too... In other news, Livi had eye surgery last week. It went pretty well results-wise, but she's been very "needy" ever since. Or maybe she's just coming in to the terrible 2s-3s. It's hard to tell.

Only 7 more weeks until our cruise... Can't wait!

~ Jeana

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

The CHI Annual Picnic Weekend

Alivia and I made it home late this afternoon after a long and exciting weekend in St. Louis with our friends Christy, Cindy, Katie, Kelly and Grace. We had a fantastic time and I've got a lot of pictures to upload, but I'm going to have to do a quick drive by post now with just a few and catch up with details and more pics later. I'm exhausted! So... please enjoy these few while I recover... The one of the three girls all dressed up is from our tea party on Monday. The other two are at the CHI picnic when Livi and Grace couldn't resist joining in with the dancers. Too cute! Enjoy!

~ Jeana

Sunday, July 06, 2008

Happy Birthday, Dear Livi...

Saturday was Alivia's 3rd birthday! We celebrated on Friday with Livi's first fireworks outing. She thought riding the train (the elevated railway that runs around downtown Jacksonville) was the best thing she'd ever done. It was all she could talk about the rest of the night... She enjoyed the fireworks, as well, but the train was the best!

Saturday we both slept in and then spent the late morning and early afternoon running around town looking for Blue's Clues items for her birthday celebration. The Party City near us has quit carrying them, and we had to go to two other stores before we found any. Fortunately they did have the main thing I wanted--handy, dandy notebooks! We also got a bobble-head blue for her cake topper. After we finished our shopping we went the long way home and stopped at a park we had passed on our way to one of the shops. I wish I'd had my camera there--it's a great park and Livi had a blast. The whole thing is castle-themed--you enter through the castle gates and it's divided into several courtyard areas--each with swings, slides, climbing equipment, etc. There were several families there, but it felt like we had the place to ourselves the way everything was arranged. Really cool!

After Livi's nap we headed over to Gran's and Papa's house for her birthday celebration. We cooked hot dogs on the grill and had ice cream cake. Livi really liked her new car--although she kept trying to drive it Fred Flintstone style instead of using the pedals. Too cute! She also loved the card Gran gave her--a musical one that played "Dancing in the Streets." She played it over and over again.

Overall, a nice birthday weekend for my little girl!

~ Jeana

Saturday, June 21, 2008

My Little Gymnast

Livi is now taking gymnastics classes. It's a parent-child class that allows me to work with her as she is not yet ready for an independent class. It's a lot of fun for both of us. If I could just get her to quit pulling the other kids' hair, it would be great! Surprisingly, for a kid who has balance issues, Livi does really well on the balance beam. She just trots from one end to the other, turns and trots right back. She is great with the tumbling activities, too. She has significant upper body strength, but tends to let go of the bar when we try to turn her over on the parallels, but I have no doubt she'll do well with those, too, once she realizes she needs to hold on.

Interestingly, tonight the US gymnastics trials were on television. Livi was riveted! Every flip got an exclamation of "Oh, gosh!" (Where she got that from, I haven't a clue!) When they would pause and throw up their arms, she would throw up hers. At the end of each routine she'd jump up and start doing tumbles across the floor. She was so excited by it and literally followed every move they made. It was incredible to watch.

Later this week Livi and I are driving up to Atlanta. Livi is going to stay with my aunt there while I audition for Who Wants to be a Millionaire. It would be so cool to get on that show and win some money! Wish me luck!

Livi also starts back at daycare this week... My mother is having surgery on her hand and won't be able to watch her for about a month. Livi's not going to like it, but it's got to be done. Thankfully, because of other things we have going on, she'll only be there three days each week.

Hope everyone is having a great weekend!

~ Jeana

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Rain Rain Go Away...

The weather has been simply awful lately! If it's not so bleeping hot and humid that we can hardly stand to go outside, it's pouring rain! I know we need the rain, but why can't it rain late at night and give us the evening to enjoy the pool and the slide? Grrrrr!!!!!

Livi had an appointment today with a genetics doctor. She agrees with us that Livi is most likely an FAS child. She is going to test for some other things, too, though. The appointment went well--I like this doctor and she talked to me like an equal, which was nice. Yesterday we had an appointment with Livi's developmental specialist. He was very encouraging this time--said he could see that Livi had made a lot of progress since he saw her in October. That was great to hear. I mean, we know she has made considerable progress, but it was really nice to hear his professional confirmation of it.

This weekend Livi will be starting gymnastics and dance lessons. It's a program that was designed for the developmentally challenged child and focuses on building confidence and ability. They also say they can help improve her attention, listening skills, and ability to follow instructions. We'll see how *that* goes!

I'm taking lots of photos lately--trying to get a few good ones to send in with her post placement report. I thought these were really cute! Livi was trying out her princess look and her glam rocker look. She's such a little cutie!

~ Jeana

Friday, June 06, 2008

Summer of Insanity

So far this is looking to be one heck of a summer! Livi and I have been extraordinarily busy lately and it doesn't look to be slowing down any time soon. In the past month we have had Livi tested for school (cognitive, psychological, speech, occupational and physical evaluations), we have enclosed part of the backyard to make a play area for Livi, terraced that area so we could put up a swimming pool, pulled up a couple rows of hedges (roots and all!), planted several new flower beds, taken a long weekend vacation in Georgia to visit family, went to Canaveral to see the space shuttle launch, rebuilt the deck, and killed the front lawn (we're getting ready to put in a sprinkler system and resod...)

Livi actually is a pretty good "helper". She loves to get right in the middle of whatever it is I'm working on, but can be entertained well enough with simple tasks to keep her from slowing me down too much. She loves to "clean up" after mommy and has her own Livi-sized broom and everything. I'm going to try to get some more pictures of her this weekend to post here--I need them for our post placement report anyway. We just had our visit from the social worker this past week and will be sending that off soon. It's hard to believe that our two year anniversary is coming up!

I had, after much searching as reported in a previous post, decided on a private pre-school for Livi. Then I started debating whether to send her to school this year at all. She's not potty trained and has no interest in it at all and she loves the time with my mother and is thriving there. Livi is still receiving therapies (OT, PT, speech and early intervention services) from Early Steps until the end of this month, though, and they asked if we would consider having her tested by ChildFind to see if she qualifies for the State's ESE (special education) program. I agreed and she was tested and has qualified for their full program which will enable us to receive speech, OT and PT for as long as she needs it at no charge while she is in the school system here. So... now it looks like Livi will be going to pre-school in the Fall--and at one of the State's "A" schools (top-rated by the State and by the parents.)

I have a meeting with ChildFind in a few weeks to go over all the details, but I'm very pleased with what I know so far. It will be a M-F 8:30-3:00 program with a max of 6 children per teacher. They will work on all the usual pre-school stuff, but also provide her with the OT, PT and speech therapies she needs. They will also work on special skills like potty training, dressing herself, and otherwise helping her become more self-sufficient. The goal is to have her ready to go to kindergarten with her peers with the option of continuing any therapies she may still need. I'm hopeful that they will help us come up with a sensory diet that works for her and that her socialization skills will improve, as well.

On a lighter note, Livi and I had a fun day today (I'm off on Fridays in the summer and we try to make the most of all those three day weekends.) We lazed around the house in the morning, but this afternoon we went to the park and fed a huge flock of ducks and geese, played on the swings, and just enjoyed being outside. Tomorrow I plan for us to do a little shopping and then go swimming in the afternoon. Maybe a visit to the zoo next weekend...

I hope everyone else is enjoying their summer as much as we are!


Sunday, April 20, 2008

Spring Time

These last four weeks have flown by. My conference was this past week and both Livi and I survived... barely. I have to say that in some ways this was the roughest one I've ever had to deal with--and all because of one of the keynote speakers. It actually went very smoothly in all other aspects, but I had to deal with a major ego and came close to losing my temper more than once. Thankfully, I managed to hold on, but it was a close thing... Between that and going several days without my Livi fix... well, let's just say that I'm very glad that it's over and the next one is a year away! Speaking of Livi--she's really enjoying being a little girl lately. Here's a photo of her primping in front of our cheval mirror.

She's also discovered the joys of trying to walk in mommy's shoes. She actually did quite well. I was surprised. It might have been a bit easier if she'd selected a matching pair and worn them on the correct feet, but still... I also bought her a pair of platform shoes in her size and she again surprised me by walking in them very well. It only took her a few steps to get the hang of it.

This week we will be meeting with a neurologist to get the full run down on the results of her MRI from last January. I'm hoping he will be able to give us some ideas on things we can work on to assist her brain with it's re-routing of processes. She is doing well, though, even without the expert intervention. She has managed to overcome almost all of the motor skills issues and we are now focusing on speech and self-care skills. I'm hoping the decision-making skills will improve as she gets a little older, too. She seems to have very little control over impulses.

I hope to post more photos soon! In the meantime, enjoy!

~ Jeana

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Happy Easter 2008!

Sorry for the long delay since the last post. This time of year is always a busy one for me and it's even tougher this year as I'm teaching three classes in addition to my regular job at the college. Livi and I are both doing great, though, and I wanted to share some recent photos. This first one is from the zoo a couple weeks ago. The gentleman holding her is Chris--one of the nicest men I think I've ever met. Livi simply adores him, too!

Alivia looked quite the little lady in her Easter dress. She's such a fun child to dress--everything looks so cute on her! I hope it remains that way as she grows up. I also actually got her to pose for a photo before we went to Gran's and she smiled and kept her eyes open! It's a rare shot, so enjoy!

These other photos are all from today--Easter. Livi had a great time hunting for Easter eggs at Gran's house--especially when she discovered that there was candy and money hidden inside them. She had to open each one of them as she found them to see what was inside. It was cute!

Here are a couple others. Enjoy!

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Photo Time

Just wanted to upload a few new candid photos... this first one gives you a glimpse into meal times in our household. Livi is pretty good with the spoon and fork now, but does have a little nerve damage from her last surgery. As a result she tends to drool a lot more than kids her age usually do and wears a lot of her dinner. It's getting better, though, and I'm just happy to see her able to feed herself finally! It seemed to take us forever to get to this stage.

You'll have noticed in the previous photo as well as in this one that Livi's eyes are closed. Any time you tell her to smile for a picture she squints her eyes shut like that and kind of grimaces. Thank God for digital cameras because I can sometimes take 50 shots in a row before I get one with open eyes and a pretty smile! Here she's practicing her writing at her desk in Mommy's office at home.

Today we went to the zoo, but we actually spent most of our time in the playpark there rather than looking at animals. Livi loves the giant slides and would spend all day on them (or else on the big rope spider web next to them) if she could. It's funny to watch people's reactions to her on the slides--she's so tiny that they are always amazed at how fearless and strong she is.

Speaking of the spider web--how's this for a look of concentration! At one point a much bigger boy (8 years old or so) got on it and said he was the spider and Livi was his fly. I couldn't help but laugh when moments later SHE pinned HIM down on it! I had set the camera down and couldn't get to it fast enough, but it was too cute. He had such a look of surprise on his face and she was laughing so hard she was almost in tears.

This is another zoo photo--this time on the carousel. It's the only one out of more than a dozen where she didn't have her eyes closed. She really loves the carousel now, too. The first few times we rode it last year she wasn't too sure about it, but now as soon as she sees it she starts getting excited.

I hope you enjoy the photos as much as I enjoyed taking them!


Friday, February 08, 2008

Preschool Hunting

MandyJo asked about preschool hunting. Wow--what a challenge! The first thing you need to be aware of is that you need to start looking EARLY! Many of the schools we were interested in are already completely booked for the Fall term and it's just February! I suggest you start looking in the Fall of the year before you plan to send your child. They should be able to tell you deadlines for registration applications and what testing or admission requirements they have. Yes, I did say testing... Several of the schools in our area test the children as part of the admission process to make sure they are "mature enough" to attend school. We're talking Pre-K3 here! Sheesh!

What is important to you in selecting a school will depend a lot upon your child. Alivia has several medical and developmental issues that we need to keep in mindy. She's been diagnosed with sensory processing disorder and global developmental delays including speech, fine and gross motor skills, and cognitive issues. This means we need to find a school that is able to deal with her issues and not all schools are. You need to be prepared with a list of questions for the school and for the teacher--always make sure you get to meet with the actual teacher for the class your child might be going into. You also need to be aware, though, that there are certain things you don't want to bring up because once these things have been mentioned they become a part of your child's permanent school record if they are accepted at the school.

The questions I think are important to ask no matter what your child's situation is are:

1. What is the teacher/student ratio? (The lower the better. The school we are going with has a maximum 12:1 ratio with teacher aides assigned if more than 6 children.)
2. What is the curriculum and daily schedule of activities? (This is especially critical if your child is only attending a couple days a week instead of the full week. Do they include a good balance of academics, socialization, arts and crafts, outdoor playtime, etc.)
3. What are the school's accreditations?
4. Do you have space for my child? If not, is there a waiting list and what is an average wait time?
5. Does my child have to be potty trained?
6. What are the hours?
7. Are snacks and/or lunch provided?
8. What's the schedule for holidays/school closings?
9. How flexible are your drop-off and pick-up times? Are there late fees?
10. How much is it and do you have a payment plan for tuition?
11. How are children disciplined?
12. Do the children take a nap?
13. What is your student release policy (who do you allow to pick up my child?)
14. Can you give me references of other parents whose children are enrolled here?

You may come up with others, as well, that are particularly related to your situation and your child. For me, it was important to know if the school would allow me to arrange for therapists to visit her at school. I also talked to the teacher about some of Alivia's problems--speech, sensory issues, and a general lack of socialization with other children her age--to see what her reaction was. It was very reassuring to see that she wasn't alarmed and to hear that she has other students in her class this year who are similar in that respect. Experience with those issues means a lot. The one thing we specifically did not mention and won't (again because we don't want it in her permanent school record) is that Livi is a fetal alcohol child. Her case is very mild and --so far-- she doesn't have any behaviors associated with it that would be dangerous or disruptive. Fortunately, she's no worse than your typical child with ADHD. Basically we don't want her labeled as a "problem child" and we want to be able to integrate her into a regular classroom environment.

So what was our experience... well, we visited about a half dozen schools. One required testing for admission which I disagreed with on principle. Livi has had to deal with enough of that kind of BS and I really don't think it reveals that much about a child who's only 2 years old. One school (recommended because of their experience with developmental issues) turned out to be TOO much geared in that direction. Many of the students are autistic or have behavioral problems that I don't want Livi to learn. A third school wouldn't accept her until she turned 4. A fourth school had only two openings left in the Fall class for which we would have had to get in line at 4 in the morning on Wednesday so that we could be first in line to apply for. They also didn't have early drop off hours (earliest time to drop off your child is 9 a.m. What working mom can do that?) Otherwise they would have been a great choice. The fifth school we looked at is where Livi went to daycare for 8 weeks last summer while my mother was healing from surgery. While they are affordable, conveniently located and have a great curriculum, I was disturbed that I didn't know any of the staff when I went to visit. Their turnover is very high and I want Livi to have the same teacher for the whole year.

The final school I looked at and the one we will be using is a private Lutheran school. The tuition is moderate, they are conveniently located and they will allow Livi to go just two days per week for Pre-K3. (Pre-K4 will be 5 days.) They spend more time on socialization than academics on those two days, but that's really what she needs right now. We can work on the academics ourselves, it's the social interaction she really needs that we are having difficulty providing for her. The teacher, as I mentioned, was unfazed by Livi's special needs, but obviously skilled enough to deal with her. She's also been with the school for years, is a member of the congregation, etc., and so is not likely to leave during the year. While I'm not Lutheran, I don't mind Livi getting some religious education, as well. (In fact I've been reading the Lutheran beliefs and am looking forward to discussing them with Pastor Johnson, whom we also met when we toured the school.) I've always been fascinated with the pagentry of the Catholic Church, but don't believe in a lot of their stuff. I found it very interesting that a protestant faith has so many of the things I like about Catholocism and yet more closely aligns with my belief system.)

The application information will be sent to us in the next few days and I plan to get it in right away so that Livi is guaranteed a spot in their Fall class. It has definitely been a challenge, but I'm glad I was able to visit so many schools and get a feel for what is out there. I'm happy with our choice and confident that Livi will do well there.

~ Jeana

Sunday, February 03, 2008

We Have a Winner!

Woo Hoo! Alivia won two trophies today. Both are "Runner-Up" trophies, but one was for the public voting in the "beautiful 2-3 year old" category and the other was for the official judges in the "fashionable 2-3 year old" category. Hurray for Livi!

~ Jeana

Saturday, February 02, 2008

February Already!

The time seems to just be flying by! Okay, so I owe you guys a few updates. Here's the medical stuff... Monday morning Livi will be having an MRI. This is related to the pale optic nerve situation, but we hope it will also give us info regarding her balance issues. Then Wednesday we see Dr. Roy for her final post op from the jaw surgery. He'll want to see her again in a year or so to look at the cleft palette, but I do think we'll be done with his office until then. I'm hoping he can help us with her ear infection, too, though. I have her on some antibiotics but they don't seem to be making much of an impact on it. Then next month we see the orthopedic doctor and a developmental specialist and in April we see a neurologist. The fun just never ends!

Aren't these photos just gorgeous? Livi was entered in the Most Photogenic Baby contest. We'll get the contest results tomorrow, but I was able to get the CD of all the photos today. I just love these pictures of her. Tonight we're going to be meeting some friends for dinner and I can't wait for them to see her--it's been a couple months and she's changed quite a bit. Oh--and today we bought Livi some regular earrings to replace the original set. She's wearing the ladybug set right now--too cute! And I also got her a set that is this truly adorable pair of purses. I just love having a little girl to do all this stuff with!

Monday after her MRI we are going to go check out a couple preschools for Livi. The one that had been recommended by her other developmental specialist had too many autistic children and behaviorally challenged children. I don't need for Livi to learn more of those kinds of behaviors. Oh--and Livi has finally started to show an interest in television. She just adores Blue's Clues. You should see her when she sits in her thinking chair to think! Personally, I think she has a bit of a crush on Steve, the host (yes, we are watching the old episodes.)

Well, I'll probably try to post again tomorrow to let everyone know how Livi did in the photo contest. In the meantime, have a great weekend, everyone!

~ Jeana

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Happy 2008!

Sorry for the delay in posting. Things have been rather hectic during and since the holidays.

First, the holidays! Livi and I had a wonderful Christmas and New Year's! Christmas Eve we had my parents join us at our home for dinner. Livi was delighted to have Gran and Papa join us for our walk around the neighborhood to see all the lights. She rode in her new wagon (she got to "unwrap" one gift that evening. We finally got her in bed around 8:30 and then my parents helped me carry in all of the presents "from Santa" and get everything set up. Christmas morning Livi was up around 8 a.m. The first thing she saw when she went into the living room was her kitchen--and it probably took a good half hour to get her to even think about looking at anything else. Once she did move on to the other gifts her new tricycle was the next thing she latched onto. Judging from Livi's reactions I'd say Santa did well...

Livi and I spent Christmas afternoon at my parents house... there was another huge pile of presents for Livi. I gotta say she's finally gotten the hang of this gift opening stuff! After dinner we all visited some other family across town, then retired for an early night to get ready for our trip to Atlanta. We drove up the day after Christmas and stayed several days. Livi loved that she got to share a bed with Mommy! She spent every night snuggled up with me--it was SO sweet! My aunts, uncles and cousins all spoiled her silly, too. Then, on New Year's Day Livi had a couple more gifts to open--these from Father Frost. It was a great holiday season!

On the medical front... things didn't go as well as I'd hoped with the opthalmology exam. It seems Livi does have a lazy eye and she also has "pale optic nerves." They are doing eye patch therapy for the lazy eye, but the optic nerve situation seems to be the greater concern. It means her eyes are not getting an adequate blood supply. They are doing and MRI on her and refering us to a neurologist to try to determine the cause. I'm glad to be getting the MRI, actually, as it will give us more information about her brain and how it is growing. She has some significant balance issues still, for which we may find explanations in the MRI. The MRI is early in February, so we'll know more about that then, but the neurologist can't see us until late April...

In other news... Livi got her ears pierced today. She looks so cute with her little earrings! I'll have to get some photos to post here. Also, just before we got her ears done, Livi had a professional photo shoot as part of a "Most Photogenic Baby" contest that is raising money for Wolfson's Children's Hospital through the Chilren's Miracle Network. We have entered three of the shots in the contest. There were some really cute kids there, so it'll be a long shot for her to win, but I'm happy to participate in the fund-raising which will go to Wolfson's where Livi has had all of her surgeries. Once the contest is over (mid-February) I'll be given her photos and I'll post them here. They are absolutely gorgeous! In the meantime, I hope you all enjoy the candids from Christmas!

~ Jeana