Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Look at You! Are you TWO?!

Hello friends and family! 

We continue to be amazed by our miracle baby, Elise. She is now a chatty, exploratory, and very easy-going TODDLER! That's right...don't adjust your screens...that last word was 'toddler.' Hard for me to even type, let alone BELIEVE!  

Catching Up on As the Olsens Turn....

We had a wonderful Christmas with Elise. Although she still did not completely get the "Santa" idea, she did love to see all her presents and spend time playing with each one. Elmo (or "Melmo" as she calls him) was the theme to Christmas 2013! 

Christmas Eve 2013
Shortly after Christmas, we celebrated her 2nd birthday...you guessed it....'Melmo' style! We decided to have a brunch party complete with yummy pastries from a local bakery, mini quiches, and a fruity Elmo face. Elise was extremely blessed by all her friends and family for making her birthday party a priority on a snowy Saturday morning. 

Blowing out her candle

Such a smiley birthday girl!
Another big excitement in our household has been the addition of a playroom upstairs. I had this vision of an indoor treehouse, but certainly no skills to complete it. We have a wonderful friend who is a carpenter and was able to turn my dream into a reality! Thanks, Eric! 

Elise's sweet babysitter, Sadie, offered her artistic talent for the flower wall. Elise calls the playroom her "weeeeee" room. Although she is still building courage for the big green slide, she loves the bird's nest (aka trampoline) and her favorite Christmas present from her godparents: her kitchen. 

How is Elise doing developmentally? 

Before we left the NICU, our neonatologist in Indianapolis told us that Elise would 'grow out of her prematurity' by two or three years old. So, what does any parent do? They look forward to the day when he/she can say "my child is all caught up!" 

Our pediatrician, here in Seymour, cringed when I told her what the neo said simply because it is not true for most babies born early. Elise is on her own time schedule and God made her Elise....not your average child. (I type that for myself to read more than anyone else!) 
On Elise's two year appointment (2.8.14) she weighed 22 lbs and was 33 inches tall. Although she continues to be our petite little lady, her height was impressive. 

(Ladies, later in life, won't Elise love to hear that she's petite in weight, but has average to tall height?? Lucky duck!)

Coming away from our two year check-up, one area of struggle is bottles vs. sippy cups. Elise is a huge fan of the bottle. Three bottles a day and some crunchy Cheerios makes her one happy toddler! Replace a bottle with a sippy cup, and you'll hear wails for "baaaaabaaaa!" From the pediatrician's advice, we cut out bottles and went to all sippy cups right after her check-up. Dr. K said it may take a few days, but she will eventually become so hungry, that she will drink from the sippy. We were 4-5 days into the "say no to baba campaign," and Elise came down with strep throat. In order for her to stay hydrated, we gave a few bottles during her sick days. Since then, we have been slowly weaning the bottles vs. cutting off cold turkey. We find slowly weaning is working better than the cold turkey approach. There is still much progress to be made in this developmental stage as she is not a huge fan of table food either. 

"Slow but steady, " says Elise.  

Another area of growth for Elise is walking. Although she was quick to roll over as a baby and fairly quick to begin crawling, walking is lagging behind. She has taken independent steps, but only with the idea of getting from point A to point B before she falls or drops to her knees. Due to this, our pediatrician enrolled us in physical therapy for the next several weeks in hopes Elise can strengthen her legs and get to steppin'! 

Once in PT with Miss Alyson, it was noticed right away that Elise's ankles seem on the weak side. Therefore, we had an orthotic specialist come fit Elise for AFOs for her shoes. Since she loves (and prefers) to crawl, it is helpful that the braces actually make crawling uncomfortable. Hopefully this uncomfortable feeling and some much needed practice with the braces will encourage her to start walking. 

Yesterday, when we picked up the braces to take home, Elise tugged on this mama's heart strings a wee bit. She gave me a look of, "why are you doing this to me?!" Her feet felt heavy and awkward to her all day. Cries and whimpers were heard throughout the afternoon and she even tried pulling them off a few times. Of course, there was a huge part of me that wanted to take off the braces for her and say, "That's right, you don't have to wear these silly things." However, we have a goal in place (and not to mention these plastic suckers cost $4,000!) 

During nap time yesterday, I took her braces off so she could sleep. You could see instant relief wash over her face. She was being a trooper this day, like so many days of her life. A big part of me wanted to give an audible sigh and feel sorry for her. However, I did my best to picture her as a kindergartener taking her "little" braces to show-and-tell and proudly describing, "When we were all younger, what came natural to so many of you, didn't for me. These helped me learn to walk." 

We can jump this hurdle, just like all the other hurdles in the past...

She reminds me of a little soccer player :)

"Marching" Forward....Elise's Elites! 

It is that time again! Raising money so ALL preemies can have a fighting chance like our Elise....

Last year was our first year to fundraise for March of Dimes; an organization that is obviously very near and dear to our hearts. We set, what we thought, was a lofty goal of $2,000. After fundraising for just a few short weeks, we had to raise our goal...and raise it....and raise it!  At the end of the walk, we had raised over $8,500! WHAT an honor and blessing to preemie babies who are fighting for their lives now, and those that fought the good fight, such as Elise. Thank YOU for being such an incredible supporter of this very worthy organization. 

As we prepare to rev up our Elise's Elites engines this spring, we again ask you to join us as we raise money for all preemies. Would you help us? 

Travel to {www.eliseselites.com} to see our team page Elise's Elites: giving our best for her best! On our web page, you will see simple instructions that will guide you on how to donate to March of Dimes on behalf of our team, order official team apparel, and/or sign up to walk with us on 5.17.14!

We hope you will join us as we march for all babies this spring!

**Our family asks that you keep our friends, the Mendez family, in your closest prayers. J gave birth to twin boys in January at 23 weeks. (to put it in perspective with Elise...the twins were born two weeks earlier than Elise and were boys, which there is proven research that girls tend to be stronger in the NICU than boys..) It was very touch and go in the beginning, but the boys were hanging on strong. Last week at two months old, one of the twins was diagnosed with NEC. The surgeons rushed him to surgery, but it was too late. There was nothing they could do besides let mama J hold him while he waited for the Heavenly gates to open. I will attend this little angel's funeral tomorrow. Please pray for the entire family; especially J & S who are living every parent's worst nightmare. Also pray for the understanding of his three older brothers at home and the one twin who is still fighting in the NICU. As someone who enjoys mentoring other preemie families, there comes a time like this when no words will do....only prayers. THIS is why we march for ALL babies: past, present, and future. 

You may follow their incredible journey here. Please send your love... as your love was the only reason my feet hit the floor during our darkest days with Elise. 

I leave you with a picture that made me stop and reflect. I pray to God the Mendez family has a similar picture in a couple of years. Keep fighting the good fight, Marcello!  

upper left: 2.14.12
bottom left: 2.14.13
center right: 2.14.14
"watch the bib grow"

Until next time,