Friday, March 6, 2015

We Are Now 3...with Steps Being Made!

Hi family and friends!

Before Grant and I were thinking of growing our own family, people would always say statements such as, "ohhh you just wait...time will fly by!" To be perfectly honest, I thought to myself, well of course time flies has to move, right?! Boy, did I have to eat those words. Something about having a likes to speed up that clock!

Let me catch you up on the last year with Miss E....

We had a wonderful 2014 summer full of fun in the sun...and pool time! Thankfully, Elise loves the water and enjoys being outdoors. I feel like we spend more time in our backyard May through September than we do inside the house! I'm certainly not complaining... 

Relaxing with one of her favorite babysitters, Shelby
deck jets are loads of fun for toddlers

One very special summer moment was Elise being asked to be her Uncle Jordan's and Aunt Maggie's flower girl. They wed in a beautiful outdoor location in Bloomington, Indiana, on July 26, 2014. We weren't for sure if Miss Elise would walk the aisle herself, so a precious moment was made when my father, Phil, got to walk her down the aisle as she focused solely on throwing those flower petals.

Daddy with his flower girl 7.26.14
"off call for Dr. & Mrs. Raynor" {Elise's reception outfit}

The happily wed couple!

Christmas Eve 2014
As I mentioned in my post from last year, Elise wasn't fully into the 'Santa' idea in 2013. This year brought little progress on the excitement of the white bearded man, but of course that didn't stop us from celebrating! We did try to introduce "Elf on a Shelf" as WE, the parents, were excited for the daily interactions. Elise LOVED her elf, "Happy" much so that she didn't want to leave the elf's side. Soooo, since Elise really didn't understand WHY the elf could not be touched, we decided the elf would just be a friend this year rather than the intended magical elf that sits on the shelf. Buuuttt, since I'm new to this parenthood thing, (and this Elf on a Shelf thing), I didn't think things through before I let Elise take Happy to church nursery with her....
"Mom! Elise is touching her elf!!" 
Whoopsie....needless to say, we kept Happy at home from then on and I made some apologies to other parents that had children in the nursery that day. Eeeek! 

2014 will go down in history as the year of Disney: Minnie Mouse, Mickey, Daisy Duck, Doc McStuffins, and the list goes on! Santa brought Elise a Radio Flyer tricycle that we can't wait to use once the snow melts and the temperatures rise.
Christmas cards (sorry, hard to read!)
Polar Express train ride in French Lick, IN
December 5th
Grande, Ami, Gaga, & Papa came all aboard with us in pjs!

How is Elise coming along developmentally?

We started physical therapy at Schneck Rehabilitation Center shortly after her second birthday in February 2014.

Once a week on Tuesdays at 9am, we worked with "Sassy," (Elise's favorite physical therapist's nickname given to her by E herself!) Elise wore her AFOs (leg braces) for many months, but we kept seeing little to no signs of walking. Worry set in for this mama, but as with everything, Elise has shown us she will master a skill when she is ready. 

At 28 months of age on May 20, 2014...we...had...a WALKER!

We continue physical therapy to this day. We are currently working on being independent when she climbs stairs, jumps, and climbs ladders. A few months ago, our therapist began to notice Elise walking on her toes, rather than her whole foot. Something that might travel with Elise for many years to come is tightness in her muscles. There's something about being able to bounce around in a belly for a FULL 9 months! Elise doesn't hate much, but when it comes to stretching her muscles, boy does she try to protest. It's just not comfortable for her. Therefore, we had to get fitted for another pair of AFOs. These current AFOs are slightly more uncomfortable than her pair from last year due to being a harder and thicker plastic. The braces work on giving her calves a full stretch as she wears them while being active. There is definitely a sigh of relief when we take these off at the end of the day!

As for eating skills, shortly after her 2nd birthday we were completely off the bottles and onto sippy cups only. Now, as a three year-old, Elise's favorite pastime is STILL not eating. She would rather play with some of her Disney toys and have a small bowl of cookies nearby. If she takes anywhere from 5-10 bites during any one given meal, we chalk it up as a success. For a while, she refused Pediasure in her sippy cup(high calorie/nutrient milk). But, as of the last few months, she is back to drinking a couple of bottles a day. Whew! 

We tried to introduce potty training this past late fall, but we could tell Elise wasn't ready yet. I am a firm believer that if the child isn't ready, no use in the parent pushing! We have the princess underwear ready to go along with the talking Elmo potty. We watch potty videos with the hope that someday she will be ready...especially before preschool this coming fall. Did I just say 'preschool?' Whoa! (I think we'll try to encourage the potty again this summer...easier time with less clothing!) 

Last week, we had Elise's three year old check up with her pediatrician. Dr. K noticed two things right away. First of all, Miss E is 24 pounds at 3 years of age. First percentile for weight and 9th percentile for height. Yes, preemies tend to be on the smaller side for several years, but our little lady's rib cage and shoulder bones are really starting to show...somehow we need to pack on the pounds. I knew her weight wasn't going to be great, but when the child only eats 4-5 bites at any given meal, to hear "we have to pack on the pounds" seems so overwhelming and near impossible on somedays. However....

Dr. K noticed when Elise speaks, she doesn't open her mouth very tall or very wide. Her speaking skills have made huge leaps and bounds in the last 1-2 months, so we have been thrilled with getting 2-3 word sentences from her independently. However, at her age, she should be speaking 4-5 word sentences quite frequently. 
Dr. K wonders if speech therapy might help Elise gain more complete sentences. She ALSO wonders if Elise's eating isn't affected by her lack of movement in her mouth. Makes sense! If a person doesn't open their mouth very tall or wide, chewing and swallowing might become an issue. We will begin speech therapy in the next couple of weeks and hope to finally have some relief/answers to our daily eating struggles. 

One more thing developmentally...that I encourage ALL mamas (especially mamas of preemies) to do....toddler gymnastics class. Side note: It might be the cutest thing you've ever seen! 

An obstacle course always finishes out the gymnastics class 

Lottie and Elsie hugging on the giant in-ground trampoline

Elise goes to a YMCA in Columbus for a mommy-and-me gymnastics class on Thursday mornings. She absolutely LOVES it! They instruct the little guys and gals on following directions, jumping, running, back flips, front flips, different gymnastic positions, beam work, and work on the bars. It's a 30-minute class that flies by (even for the mommies) and wears the little ones out. I've seen so much growth in Elise since we started her in classes this past fall. 

Elise's third birthday was quite a treat! Along with Elise's generous Grande and Ami from Wisconsin, we took a seven day Eastern Caribbean Disney cruise! Boy, did we have fun! We departed from Port Canaveral, Florida, on February 7th, and we celebrated Elise's 3rd birthday the next day aboard the Disney Fantasy ship. We visited St. Thomas, Puerto Rico, and Castaway Cay, Disney's own private island in the Bahamas. I HIGHLY recommend the Disney cruise for anyone who wants Disney's 'magic' without all the walking, lines, and humidity of Orlando. Just to name a few highlights...we saw all the characters, attended a performance of Aladdin the Musical (Broadway quality), and got to wake up to a new tropical place every morning. We can't wait to cruise again with Mr. Mouse himself.

I'm 3!! 

Children who are not fully potty trained are not allowed in the Disney cruise pools. But, in Disney fashion, the splash zones are equally as fun (if not more) than the pools (and welcome swim diapers!)

The beautiful St. Thomas port

Birthday treat...Bippity Boppity Boutique!

Swimming with Daddy in the Bahamas


Our last sunset off our balcony...God at work!

As soon as we got home from our very relaxing cruise, we came back to good ol' Indiana snowstorms. I must admit, I do love a few good snowfalls every winter. Boy, did we get that this February! School was out for 7 days as we had three substantial snow falls one after another. Sooooo, what do the Olsens do?!? Why, pick up a puppy from the breeders! 

We've been thinking on a fur friend for Elise for quite some time. We found our perfect match, a miniature goldendoodle, back in January from a trusted breeder close by. We agreed then that our pick up date would be late February. Little did we know we would be in the middle of snowstorms! GAH! However, Pippa Olsen is a delight. Elise had some jealousy issues in the beginning, but falling in love simultaneously. We are excited to watch them grow together. 

Meet Pippa Olsen; 10 weeks old 

On our way to our first vet visit #holdinghands

Moving forward....This spring, we will once again walk in support of all babies born prematurely. We as a family, might not be using March of Dimes currently, but we sure appreciated their support when we were in the NICU. Therefore, we do not ask friends and family to give for Elise, but rather for babies currently fighting, and those babies even yet to be born, that will need the research and expertise that only the March of Dimes organization can provide. Boy, does Elise has a story to tell. Let us generously give so that other babies can grow up with their own stories to share.

We ask that you visit our website { here } and follow the quick steps to donate to this organization that is near and dear to our hearts. If you are local and would love to support our team not only financially, but physically, come join us the morning of April 25th at 9am in front of Seymour High School and join us in March of Dimes' 5k walk! 

Mimosas for adults, juice and a bouncy house for kiddos, and cookies for all will be served at the 'EE after party' back at our place :) JOIN US!

Until next time,