Maria's Milestones

Maria is nine years old!

“The days are long but the years are short” is the best summation of parenting I’ve heard. She’s half way to (ostensible) adulthood, people! On Monday I found myself trying to visualize those next nine years, and for the first time, I felt like I have enough data to predict that course of her life and our lives within a few degrees of accuracy. We know what middle and high school she’ll go to. We know approximately what her teenage rituals will be and where they’ll take place. She may learn to drive a car we currently own. That’s weird, right? I mean, shit happens, etc., but in all likelihood, we can tell where this story is going.

So her birthday was on a school day, and she wanted a pink bean bag chair, and a trip to Great Wolf Lodge, and an oreo ice cream cake from Donut on a Stick and these things were easy to arrange.

The birthday hat! And a handmade card from Val, ALL THE WAY FROM ENGLAND.
ChikfilA lunch. Birthday shirt by Grandparents Niehaus!
The pre-musical candle cake.

Grandma managed to find this crazy candle that lights up and spins, and, well, just watch the video:

Maria has a close friend who has the same birthday. It’s fun being a little girl with a birthday twin. She joined us at Great Wolf Lodge.

Climbing stuff he shouldn’t climb is one of his life’s greatest pleasures.

I made them go to school the day after Great Wolf Lodge because I AM THE MEANEST MOM EVER, yes! My t-shirt is currently being made.

(Seriously, though, my first impression of the Lodge was negative, and I have been proven mostly right. Yeah, the kids love it, but it’s loud, expensive, and a bit like swimming around in a warm, bacterial soup. I will not weep when they’ve decided they’re done with this place.)

So, there we go. She has a light post-birthday funk, just in time for her first SOLs, ha!

Maria's Milestones

Maria is 7 years old!

I have no real idea how tall she is or how much she weighs, although she goes in for her yearly check up tomorrow. I can report that looks tall enough for her age group, but that she seems smaller somehow. She has skinny little arms and legs and a fabulous face with cheekbones from I don't know whom. Nobody on my side at least.

She had a very full day, which was fitting, since she had been looking forward to her seventh birthday for the previous three hundred and sixty four days. She got up at 5:30 that morning, which was a total shock to the rest of the house. All day long she told strangers it was her birthday, as if there might be some confusion.


She was pensive at the birthday cake. Seven years old makes a girl think.


She spent most of the morning with her buddy Aiden at Busch Gardens. (Maria has buddies!)

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 Trying, and failing, to make a sad face while waiting for her Red Robin lunch:





After lunch, there was ice cream and cake at home with school and neighborhood friends. After the chaos of last year's birthday party, I had but one request: not another party with her whole class in a loud, crazy place. This felt like a nice compromise. A few friends came over and were lovely and sweet. One particular dude tried to put together her Playmobil hospital, and bless his little heart for trying. 



And as if that were not enough, the group that puts on the kids' special needs camp was coincidentally having a "sensory friendly" pool party, so off we went.



Afterward, she changed out of her swimsuit into jammies, because who couldn't predict this would happen?




Maria's Milestones

Maria is Five Years Old!


Height: 44-ish inches

Weight: 37-ish pounds 

(Maria is, as they say, a wisp of a girl.)


She celebrated with her grandparents and our neighbors. Pizza was involved. Also, Marlo and I collaborated on a pink cake that turned out pretty cool if you didn't look too hard.



She was really, really excited about her birthday. She'd been making birthday demands plans since January, including what she wanted to eat, what she wanted to wear, where she might go, what she might do, and what pink gifts we could be so good as to wrap in pink paper for her.And though many ideas were bandied about, in the end we decorated the house and gave her a few things we knew she'd like, and made sure she would have a special outfit. It was a pretty great day.

To begin with, Jeff and I (and a bunch of other people) attended her IEP and kindergarten (!) transition meeting. The consensus is that she's doing about as well as any of us could hope. Is she behind, developmentally speaking? Yes. But not as much as I feared. And the awesomeness is so very awesome. 

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 There's the singing (sometimes with original material!), the monkey bars badassery, and the need to put dolls and puppets to sleep all over the house in custom made pot holder beds. Playing and scheming take up her whole day. She's interested in trying to read and figuring out how things are spelled. She's starting to ask "Why?" in that very annoying and deeply reassuring way that I have seen other people's kids do. She says things like, "When I grow up I can drive myself to Busch Gardens and ride the scary roller coaster and Kurt can come with me!" 

(One day she told me she that when she grows up she's going to be a pilot and fly her own pink airplane and it suddenly occurred to me that I have spent way too much of my life worrying that I would have a kid who's a sociopath and way too little of my life worrying that I would have a kid who loves to fly. )

Though she is an excellent influence on her big brother, she lives an unfair truth. The more super cool, regular old normal kid stuff she does, the less inclined I feel to shout it from the rooftops. I am starting to take her progress for granted. She's still a special ed student, possibly until she graduates. But I am finding myself confidently planning for a future that has Maria going off to college, having a grown up job, a partner, and maybe even worrying herself into an early grave over kids of her own some day! 



It's a good feeling.





Maria's Milestones

Maria is four years old!!!



Here's Daddy reminding her that she cannot eat her cupcake until we have set it on fire first:




 Blowing out her admittedly meager set of candles in one swoop. Not bad for a NICU kid!



 She further celebrated by eating 4 more cupcakes, and spending hours in a spa with Kurt and our neighbors' daughters while we barbecued and socialised with grown ups. (Getting attention from older girls  makes her day, month, year, whatever. She loves it. I fear for her high school years.)

She sang Happy Birthday to herself all day, and opened presents and had a great day. She also announced at least three times, "Mommy, my bumpers need buffing!" Because she does that. A lot. And expects us to rub her forehead accordingly.

More to come as soon as I finish my homework. (Yes, I have homework these days. That'll be one of the things I tell you about. Sigh.)

Maria's Milestones

Maria is three years old!

Three years after my so-called womb tried to smother the life out of her, we celebrated the heck out of Maria's birth on Monday.


I'm not a hundred percent sure she fully grasped the whole birthday thing, but she certainly felt special. Her expression said it all: Cupcakes? Really? Twice in a day? If you say so. More new toys? Yes, please. Swimming? McDonald's? This is the best Monday ever!

She did indeed have cupcakes at school (finding kosher cupcakes in southern Virginia is no easy feat), and again at home with her brother. She, of course, wore the birthday hat.


So how's she doing? Not too stinking bad. What is she doing? Well, because she's a girl, she loves beads and dresses and flowers. Because she's a kid, she loves playgrounds and balls and stickers, and singing and dancing, and playing with her Fisher-Price little people, and frequenting the local chain of pathogen zoos bouncy houses. And because she's Maria, she loves airplanes and really big spiders.

I wish I were kidding. She calls them "tarangalahs." She's especially fond of watching this Youtube, which really gets going about a minute in. It's not for the arachnophobic.

So, we got her a stuffed spider. Here she is showing it to the camera.


Crap my kids are weird.

 Developmentally speaking, she's got letters and numbers and colors and basic shapes down cold and she can climb anything. She is very, very shy around people she doesn't know, including other kids. (A child of mine socially underdeveloped and awkward? Shocking!)

Height and weight? Your guess is as good as mine. We're not as focused on numbers these days. I can confirm that Maria has gone from being a little wonderbun to a pretty average sized three year old, although, if our childhood photos are any indication, she's smaller boned than either of us were at her age.

She is not potty trained. She is not close to being potty trained.

And while she hardly ever wants to do what I tell her, she seems to have no problem taking orders from her puppets. So I still have the edge here. 

Maria's Milestones

Maria is eighteen months old!


Alas, I have no height and weight. But she is very small. Her clothes keep getting shorter, so she must be growing, I guess. 

Four facts about the shorty of the family:

1. She is a seriously busy little person, and her most favorite game of all time is "What is my brother doing?" Maria plays this game all day, every day. If Kurt is playing with his trains, Maria is suddenly "playing" with Kurt's trains. If he's playing with his marbles, he clearly needs Maria's assistance. It gets to the point where Kurt sobs and desperately searches for some corner of the house she can't get to or some surface she can't climb up on, and of course, his options are dwindling because Maria will try to climb anything. Anything. And she will follow Kurt anywhere.

2. She has a lot of words, but I couldn't say for sure how many. Thirty? Forty? A lot. Mostly Jeff and I are the only ones who understand them. She's weak on saying Mommy and Daddy and Kurt and basically any name except Pablo, whose name she says a hundred times a day, usually while giving him kisses. 

3. I know you're not supposed to let babies watch TV. I know, okay? Kurt watched very, very little TV before the age of two, mostly because he just never showed any interest. But he didn't have any older siblings. Kurt watches TV now, and unless I were to get really creative about keeping Maria isolated from the TV and her brother (and the chances of my parenting getting creative are really quite slim at this point), it means that she's watching along with him. She has a precocious interest in TV and its inner workings that her brother lacked. You know it's bad when your baby picks up the remote, toddles over to you, puts the remote in your hand and says, simply, "Arr?" indicating that she would like to watch the pirate episode of Backyardigans. Again.

4. She is an unabashed daddy's girl. Just completely adores Jeff, lights up at the sight of him, and can be seen daily weeping at the door when he leaves for work.

Remember when she was still in the NICU, living in her clear plastic display case? Sometimes I like to go back to this post and watch the video of her looking around with that worried look that was the clearest indication she was my child….