Flash ahead 8 months

How did the time fly by so quickly?

We’re now 8 months into 3 years old, and the festive season is just around the corner. I’m a little overwhelmed where to begin?

Health-wise, your left eye hasn’t really improved despite the patching, but we keep plugging away at it and you’re now wearing your glasses during the day at school, if nothing else to protect your right eye. There will be no surgery on your eye before you turn 5, and even then it will probably be a follow-up procedure to your eye lift in 2017.

Unfortunately, in the last couple of weeks your hearing has been obviously compromised – we suspect your other ear tube finally came out (as they do), many months after the first one did. Luckily we’re seeing your ENG doctor next week. I’m not sure I reported on your teeth: I think you have 3 extra teeth in addition to all the expected teeth. More the merrier!

As for your character, you continue to have a wonderful sense of humour, and when you’re upset we can get you laughing pretty quickly. You also love to sing. Tonight you regaled me with an extended version of a song you were making up that went something like “Mommy tooted and she is lying about it” (blaming others for your transgressions is another theme that emerges from time to time.) However…

When Uncle Dave warned us about how the 2’s were a breeze compared to the 3’s, he was dead on. Terrible Two’s? Pshaw. 3 1/2 hit and BOOM – all of a sudden you weren’t the lovely, compliant, easily-redirected child you had been. Independence assertion equalled frequent refusal to listen and some genuinely rotten behaviour. Then you want a hug and expect all to be forgiven. So Dada and I try to hammer come the concept of “consequences” and genuine apologies.

Oh yeah, and then there’s the GI issues that have sent us to clinics and even one night to Sick Kids Emerg. Part of it was likely a control issue on your part, so we have armed ourselves with dried fruit, probiotics, Restoralax and, so far, 2 suppositories. Luckily the lingering memory of the “positories” is often enough to get you to try other less-drastic measures.

Lately you love puzzles and writing letters – you can write H (your first letter), A, T, I, and others, and you recognize a lot more. Tonight you and I sat at the kitchen island and wrote “Happy snowflake” together (your choice of words.) Then you held the pen to your face and smiled at me.

“Annie, did you just write pen on your face?”

“Yes. I drew a long, skinny B.”

Good thing it was bath night.

You’ve made a new friend, Hannah, who is in the older class but who you get to see every day during after care. One day a note was left in your cubbie: Dear Annie, Can’t wait to see you. Love, Hannah.

Your reply: Hannah, I love you. Can I please have a playdate with you? And you signed it with your name, as you can see.

No doubt there’s much more I could add, but at least I’ve got something after all these months! To be continued.




The last day of two

Three years ago today, on a remarkably warm March day, I unsuccessfully tried negotiate a few more days of pregnancy but, due to alarmingly-high blood pressure, was denied. “Go for ice cream!” they said to Dada and me as the early contractions of induction began to kick in. Then later that night, at 3:16 on 3/17, a purple, skinny, wrinkly squawking creature was extracted from my womb. And tomorrow, she turns three.


I know I haven’t kept up well on this blog since the summer, largely due to a combination of early mornings (to work out) and exhaustion from the 2-hour marathons that are your bedtime ritual, one that is almost exclusively the domain of yours truly, not for lack of trying by Dada.

We had your birthday birthday at SkyZone indoor trampoline rink on Saturday. Thirteen 2 and 3 year-olds, and it was such a joy! Kudos to SZ for making it so easy for parents. You seemed to have a great time and were happy with your Hello Kitty purple chocolate cupcakes I made. Back at home in the afternoon kid #14 came over for an “open presents” play date because her mom got the party time wrong, so it worked out very well. Chris, Georgia’s mom, commented on how amazed she was by your demeanour, your sunny disposition.

Tomorrow Dada and I will bring mini cupcakes (purple icing with sugar shamrocks) to Preschool. Later we plan to take you to Banjara for an Indian birthday dinner. This is on your request. My cosmopolitan child.

On a non-birthday note, a few highlights:

  • The eye patching is working. At our checkup in February your eyesight in your left eye had improved from 20/400 to 20/250. They gave us a prescription for glasses for when you’re wearing the patch, but you don’t like wearing the glasses, and we’re under the impression it’s not critical. You also give us a hard time about wearing the patch on weekends, but at least you wear it for the full day at school.
  • Much to our surprise and delight, the most recent visit to the dentist (January) revealed that you have all your baby teeth. We had no idea! Although it doesn’t guarantee you’ll have all your adult teeth, it certainly is encouraging. Moreover, you have an extra molar. And since the appointment another tooth has come through, so it looks like you now have two extra teeth! The tooth fairy better take out a loan.
  • You are now officially all-in toilet trained. Although we kept you in diapers for December, throughout that month you were 99% pee trained. Number two was a bit trickier. In January we started sending you to school in underwear, and you came home more than once with a plastic bag-enveloped accident. Then you went through a phase of withholding your poo. We were so concerned that we took you to the clinic because we were fearful of going to Mexico with a constipated child. The dr. recommended a gentle laxative added to your milk, and that really helped. That and M&M rewards.
  • We escaped the coldest February on record with a trip to Club Med in Ixtapa, Mexico. It was another successful week of camp/adult time/family time/food/shows. The return home was a bit of a shock to the system. When we walked along the tarmac to the airplane, it was about 30C. When we walked from the terminal to the limo, it was -40C. I actually started choking on the air. I don’t think the body is supposed to go through a 70-degree change in 8 hours.
  • Dada wants to keep capturing the funny things you say. He thought it was hilarious the other night when I was out and he put you to bed. You said, “I didn’t love you yesterday, but I love you today.” And the next night she said, “You’re my best friend. Good night little buddy.” I’ll try to get better at capturing these moments.
  • Finally, I think you are at the top of the girlyness scale. It started with wanting to wear dresses to school. Then you would only wear dresses that could spin. Then you wanted to wear your black patent leather mary janes. Now it’s a strict diet of pouffy dresses, tights and black patent leather shoes. And inevitably we have fallen under Frozen’s spell. It took us over a month to make it through the whole movie (and I’ve yet to watch it in full, hearing it more than seeing as I do chores while Dada watches with you), and I have to say it’s very well done. Your little friend Leah gave you the Frozen record for your birthday, so it will be the soundrack to our lives for the foreseeable future.

Hard to believe your start your fourth year tomorrow. And now that it’s safe to say, the “terrible two’s” really weren’t an issue in Annieland. Let’s see how the “F)(#*%*#ing Threes” go.

Happy birthday, my little St. Paddy’s girl!

From the mouths of babes

You have so many gems, but Saturday Dada said to me, “Write this down!”

Mama, the sun doesn’t have any hair, just like Dada. Can I say hi to the sun? It’s waaaaake tiiiiiime!!!!!

Like a chip off the ole’ block

So much to catch up on, but I didn’t want to forget to tell this story.

On another typically freezing day of the winter of 2015, to go to school I bundled you up in a sweater, snowpants and winter jacket, as well as snow boots, mitts and hat.

When we arrived in your classroom, you started to take off your many layers. When you got to the jacket, you sang “Zip me over and pour me out.”

Two years old and she’s already starting to pun. Goodness, what lies ahead?!


December on our doorstep

Where to begin?

I will beg the fates not to punish me for saying this, but by golly you are pretty good for a two year-old. Dad and I are overwhelmed by your cuteness factor, even if you are learning to leverage it to get you out of trouble. To wit: sometimes you yell at us. Actually, it’s quite rare, but recently when you yelled I chastised you, and you looked back at me seriously, then broke into a big smile and said, “Mommy, I love you,” and went in for the cuddle. What’s a mom supposed to do? Occasionally you do have naughty days at school, and one of the things the teachers and I gently work on with you as that you can’t always go first nor can you always sit next to the teacher. Whenever there are pictures of one of your classmate’s birthday celebrations at school, surprise surprise: there you are next to the birthday girl/boy. You love to be at the centre of the action.

You’re very big on the cuddles, and you’ve been all about Mama for the last number of months. It’s rare I get an evening to myself (bed time takes us to somewhere between 8:30 and 9:00) because every night it’s “milk with Mama.” You’ll look at me sweetly apropos of nothing and you’ll say, “Mama, I love you.” Yesterday was your first real haircut (just a clean up to give you more shape), and you held my hand the whole time. But no tears, of course. You’ll reach out to hold my hand at dinner, or you’ll just want a cuddle.

Others notice your sweet nature. Today we went with Zia and Maya to the Eaton Centre (they to shop, us to look at the decorations), and in Roots one of the salespeople spontaneously gave you a sheet of Roots beaver stickers because he was charmed by your peach sparkly dress (yes, you still dress yourself, and it’s a limited rotation of full dresses) and your sunny disposition. When we went to the Swatch watch kiosk, the gal spontaneously gave you a ladybug keychain. I think part of it has to do with the eye patch (more on that in a second). While some people don’t really know how to process a little gal with an eye patch and a different kind of (unpatched) left eye, it also brings out the best in others. You genuinely warm the hearts of those who have the good fortune of crossing paths with you.

Last weekend we went to Andrea’s mom’s 70th birthday party at Andrea and Eric’s new house. Wilna was thrilled to see you, and Lauren (who is 9) played with you… for the 6 hours that we were there! You guys had a long dance party (one of your favourite activities) complete with summersaults, you played in Lauren’s room, ate pizza together, then cuddled together in the TV room and watched the movie Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs, the first full-length movie you watched. You proudly informed me afterwards, “Lauren got us a blanket, and Wilna got me a pillow.”

Back to the eye. Now that you’re older the ophthalmologists are able to provide a more accurate vision assessment. The way they do this is to get you to identify one of four familiar shapes (circle, square, house, apple) on a screen about 4 metres away. Your right eye is as good as it could be; however, it became painfully evident that your left eye was much more seriously impaired than we had feared. The new diagnosis was 20/400, which is very compromised yet better than it used to be, whatever that was. Upon receiving the results, Dr. Heon asked me to increase patching time from 2 – 3 hours/day to 6 hrs. I almost burst into tears. Both Dad and I had the same thought: with everything this kid has to deal with she now has to draw more attention to herself with a patch? Until then the patch was something we did primarily at home. But you know what? We sucked it up, stuck it on you before school, and kept it on until bath time. And guess what? You adjusted like a champ. You were completely unfazed by being patched in the morning and wearing it all day at school. God, you make things easy.

You continue to love preschool. Most days you don’t want to leave when I come to pick you up. We’ve had some playdates with some of your classmates, including your best little friend, Leah. So cute to see how you’ve gravitated to each other! You’re starting to have longer conversations with us, and rather than answer “yeah” or “no”, you’ll often say, “I do” and “I do not.”

“Annie, do you have to go to the potty?”

“I do not.”

Speaking of the potty, your training is coming along slowly. We’ve started putting you in underwear (or nothing) when you’re at home. Although you will tell me excitedly, “When I go poo in the potty I can wear underwear all the time!”, you’ve yet to put that into practice. I just hope we can make some serious progress before we go to Mexico in February.

Some of the highlights since mid-September:

  • Scarlett’s birthday party with the Elsa character from the movie Frozen – you were completely oblivious to who she was
  • Raspberry picking at Andrew’s Scenic Acres – riding the wagon for 3 loops
  • Riding the Halloween train between Uxbridge and Stouffville (York Durham Heritage Railway)
  • Halloween – dressing up as a bumble bee (again) and lasting long enough to go to 5 houses until you absolutely had to go home and eat your treat (cheet-ohs)
  • Meeting Joanne and Aisha (readers of the blog) at the Science Centre
  • Sleeping with a pillow (started a few nights ago)

Finally, I’ve started a research project on your family’s history on my side. It’s a long-term effort, but I hope you’ll find it helpful one day to learn about your great-great-grandfather, great-grandfather, and others.

September catch up

So much to report on since I last posted!

You had the week of August 18 off from daycare. The Friday prior you had a speech therapy session at which Deb proudly discharged you! She confessed that she had never seen a cleft kid do so well with their speech. In fact, she called the speech therapist from Sick Kids in doubt: why wasn’t she finding anything wrong with your speech? How could that be? Fran assured her that it was indeed possible that some cleft kids don’t need further therapy. Well done, bubuleh!

Then Saturday we threw you into a whirlwind of activity. We took you to the College Montrose park party at Trinity Bellwoods where you played in the many bouncy castle manifestations, including sliding down a high slide with surprising delight. The next day we drove to Great Wolf Lodge in Niagara Falls where we were meeting your cousins, Uncle Dave and Aunty Jen. Needless to say you had a blast, and retelling of “water park” stories have finally usurped “Matt’s Cottage” tales as part of the nighttime ritual:

“Once upon a time, there was a little girl named Annie. Her parents took her the water park where she swam in the kiddie pool and also the wave pool where she went up and down. At night they went to the restaurant, where Annie had mac and cheese and vegetables, just like her cousin Zoe. After dinner there was a dance party in the lobby, where Annie stayed up very late dancing. She was so tired that she fell asleep while drinking her milk! She had so much fun.”

We also went to the Falls, and went on the Hornblower cruise. You love boat rides. Unfortunately, the trip to the butterfly sanctuary was aborted when a certain little girl decided not to nap.

We returned after two nights, and the next day we took you to Canada’s Wonderland. I have a feeling that I loved it on your behalf more than you did. Going on a rainy Wednesday (that turned into a clear day, as it were) during the Ex is the best! We never stood in line.  You did nap, after which we took you through the dinosaur walk. That didn’t work out too well. We went through it very quickly.

Thursday we took it easy, then Friday we took you to Centre Island. Just like the Niagara boat ride and Matt’s cottage before that, you loved riding on the Ferry. In Centreville you rode on the fire truck ride, spinning the steering wheel back and forth the whole time. At the end you said to Dada, “I didn’t ring the bell.”

Once we exhausted you we shipped you back for your last week of Daycare. Then, after Labour Day, you started Preschool! You adjusted really easily – it’s in the same place as your Daycare, and a lot of the kids are already familiar to you. One of your BFFs, Leah, is in your room, but your other BFF, Fiona, was moved to another room. But you still get to see each other in the playground and gym. It’s so sweet to see you developing friendships. 🙂

At the end of your first week of Preschool you had an ENT appointment and we met with Drs. Fisher and Phillips. At ENT they discovered that the tube in your left ear had come out of the canal but not out of your ear. Your hearing was quite compromised, but we’re hoping this was exacerbated by congestion. Then Dr. Fisher was pleased with your healing, and deferred to Dr. Phillips who saw you afterwards. He said that you wouldn’t have further surgery until age 5, at which time they would take a scan of your face and create an insert made of surgical material (Polyetheretherketone -PEEK) that will be the difference between the right side of your face and what exists on the left. Dr. Phillips explained that the success rate for this material and procedure has been phenomenally successful, particular relative to the former process which involved removing a layer of skull and shaping it match the other side of the face. Not only was it hard to match, but half the time the bone was re-absorbed by the body. PEEK actually bonds to the existing bones so it “grows” naturally. At least that’s how we understand it. Dr. Phillips thinks that the insert will help with the placement of your eye as well as your eyelid. Final corrections can be done by Drs. Fisher and DeAngelis. It’s nice to finally have an understanding of the timing and the sequence.

And to end… one more milestone: you had sleepovers at both Grandma and Grandpa’s as well as Nonna and Nonno’s! The first one was very strange for us, because we’d never been away from you except for when you were in the hospital. It felt a bit unsettling, but we reassured ourselves by considering how good this was for everyone. Dropping you at N&N was also a bit disconcerting just because how far away they are (45 min. drive at least), but it was another huge success! Oh, the possibilities this opens up…. 😉



Another reason you’re awesome

At drop off this morning the director of your daycare told me a story.

Yesterday afternoon a couple whose child is starting in your room next week (and you’ll be starting in Pre-School!!) came to the daycare for an orientation. To get a feel for the place they visited your class, and the mom sat down.

Evidently seeing an opportunity, you walked over to her and sat right in her lap, chatting the whole time. Dana asked if you wanted to go play with your friends, and you answered, “No. I’m ok.”

I would love to know what the mom made of the whole experience. Dada, G&G, N&N, and others who know you think it’s hilarious.

That’s my girl. 

Your first poem

At two years-and-a-third-and-a-half, you stepped out of the bath and recited your first poem:

I’m going to eat tortilla at IKEA.

And thus the Poet Laureate was born.

Update re: eye

Good day today at the eye clinic!

First, we were there early (I thought the appointment was 8 am, not 8:30), and they took us before 8:30! Then Orthoptics was for 10 am, but they took us for 9:15. Trust me, this is a huge cause for celebration as I was anticipating being in the Hospital for hours. I’m still giddy!

As for your eye (which I’ll concede is a little more important than my timetable), we got some answers on the sequence of activities. Ideally, the eyelid repair is done last, after the orbital bone repair, which, again ideally, is done once that part of the face is 75% grown, usually around age 5. Naturally, there are other considerations: will your open eyelid eventually become infected? Will the social pressure be too much? As well, when it comes to fixing the orbital area, do they implant titanium? Or take bone from one of the layers of your skull? The next steps are unclear, but following our appointment with Plastics in early September, Drs. De Angelis, Fisher and Phillips will powwow to assess the best course of action. Dr. De A was happy with how your eye looked and the skin around it. A nice win.

And on the theme of wins, your vision improved again! Although reluctant to compare her test results to the 20/20 scale, the orthoptist surmised your vision is roughly equivalent to 20/80. To put this in perspective, when you first were assessed your vision was equal to 20/250, and at your last assessment (May 2014) your vision was = 20/100. So all the grief with the patching is paying off. PATCHING WORKS, BY GOLLY. Poor thing – no wonder you hated wearing the patch at first. But it’s good evidence that parents sometimes make kids do things they don’t want to do but that are good for them.

Remember this when you’re older and reading this and angry at me for something I’m making you do.

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