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Journal Key:

Green = Steve | George = navy | Janet = Purple | Evelyn = Black

12/1/11 (Thursday)

I heard Owen waking up this morning and went into his room. He slowly pulled himself up in the crib, still sleepy. He looked past me, over to his dresser, where the books from last night were sitting. "Ah-ba-tet," he said. "Ah-ba-tet." I got him his book, and he looked at Alphabet House while I got him dressed.

This evening, we reached a very important milestone as a family: we moved the high chair out of the kitchen and all ate sitting at the table together. Owen sat in his booster seat and used a plate. He had a snack trap of goldfish crackers, and he asked me to open it. I put the goldfish into one of the holes in his plate for him and he went to work. Later, I saw goldfish in the snack trap: he must have been putting them back!

12/2/11 (Friday)

Miss Sandi told me how well Owen was doing with Robin this morning: she was sitting at her desk and could listen in while Robin read Brown Bear, Brown Bear, and Owen was able to finish the answers for her. The brown bear sees a red bird, the red bird sees a yellow duck. Owen was playing with a toy school bus when I got there, and as he came over it did some vigorous vrooming in the air. The teachers said that he'd been playing with blocks earlier and a block was being an airplane.

For Family Fun Night we went out to the diner. It was Owen's most successful restaurant trip yet! He sat in his high chair and played with crayons until food came. He drank out of the big-kid cup with the big straw. When his food came, he immediately grabbed a chicken finger and tried to start eating it. I cut one up and blew on a piece until it was cool, and he ate it with his fork. He ate two entire very large chicken fingers! We didn't even have to get out the toys we'd brought until the end of the meal.

When we got home, as often happens when we get home, Owen wanted to talk about it.

Owen: Dawa home. Mommy home. Daddy home.

Me: Who else is home?

Owen: ???

Steve: Who's always in the house?

Owen: Kitty home!

Me: Who else?

Owen: (seeing the Christmas decorations in the window) Hanta home!

12/3/11 (Saturday)

I took Owen to gymnastics, and it was a lot of fun. He crawled through things--two of them were foam tunnels that sort of tipped when he was in them, which was pretty cool. He did like to stop at the tops of slides and not go down them, but he slid more than he had last time I took him. Another mother asked whether he was in daycare during the week, saying that she could tell he was because he was so good during warmups. He liked his turn on the big trampoline, actually starting to try to jump on his own, sort of, a little.

In the afternoon Owen and I did groceries, which was pretty cool. He was really good through a long trip through the supermarket; at the register I finally had to give him my house keys, which amused him for the duration of the checkout process. They amused him all the way to the car. They amused him all the way to the farmers market. They still amused him, off and on, in the farmers market. For the first time, he really started to try to help with the shopping. He picked out a bag of grapes. When he saw me putting potatoes into a bag, he started grabbing potatoes and putting them in. It was nice.

In the evening we all went down south so that Evelyn, my mother, Sarah, and Cara could go see a performance of the Nutcracker. So Uncle Jim, Griffin, Owen, and I were all at the house with my dad. We had a good time. I taught Owen to say, "No, Rusty!" even though Owen is really a big fan of Rusty and would probably not want to tell him no. The kids played with Fisher Price farm toys for a while, and also the big train set. Grandpa also distracted them with an old remote control Lamborghini. Griffin wanted to hold it down so that he could push it along himself. They also had fun chasing it up and down the hall, until Owen bumped his head a little, and then Griffin had to cry for a while, apparently in sympathy. They had a few little issues with sharing, which is actually a good sign, because it means they are paying attention to one another. Griffin loved playing with the old Playmobil spaceship toy. Owen was more interested in the plastic crates that came with the train set.

The little boys got to stay up very late, as it was around 8 before the girls returned. There had been some hope that they would be sleepy and quiet by that time, but in fact the exact opposite was true. They were wired, noisy, and still staggering about the house. Owen stayed awake during most of the long car ride home, and woke up again when we took him out of the car. He was very upset at being put in his crib and Evelyn gave in and read some books to him before finally putting him down. It was an exciting day for little boys.

12/4/11 (Sunday)

George and I had the little boy all to ourselves for a few hours on Sunday, and a good time was had by all. Owen, of course, went straight upstairs for his "neigh-neighs" as soon as he arrived. I sat facing him on the floor and we played together. After a while he held a tiny horse gently in his palm and crooned, "Oh, no." I asked whether the neigh-neigh had a boo-boo (and me with a Master's in English) and held out my hand. He gave me the injured horse, I kissed it better and gave it back. This quickly became a routine for us; we would play happily for a while until Owen discovered another wounded horse, whereupon he would alert me to the trouble ("Oh, no."). I kissed many little plastic horses.

We tried some painting - quite messy, but enthusiastic. We played with the little zoo and learned that Owen can say "lion" and, according to George, "ostrich." We read Green Eggs and Ham, and tried to feed the little guy some supper, which turned out to consist mostly of apple and some goldfish crackers, and an opportunity to be very funny with a hat.

He was, of course, joyful when his family returned. Among other things, he was inspired by Cara's good example to make his first real attempt atthe wheelbarrow maneuver, which seems to have eluded him at gymnastics so far. He also ran around madly; it didn't take long to see why he has learned to shout "Watch out!!!"

12/5/11 (Monday)

I picked Owen up today at noon and we drove down to Trenton for his last appointment at the High-Risk Follow-Up clinic. It was very sad; we have so much history with that drive down and the hospital, and now it's over. The hospital is closing, too, and moving to another building. We parked in a different lot and went in through a different entrance. The whole place is closed up, with signs pointing the way to physical therapy and the other hallways blocked off. "Outpatient registration" was just one woman behind a window, instead of the bank of six receptionists and the sign-in desk where they give out pagers.

I really like all of the staff we've met at the clinic. I'll miss the receptionist. I'll miss Janet, who does the cognitive testing. I'll miss Amy, the physical therapist whose mother was one of Owen's NICU nurses. I'll miss the doctor who sang when Owen was a baby and the audiologist and the speech therapist.

The cognitive testing was first, of course. Owen had only gotten a half-hour nap, because he'd spent the first half hour of the drive chatting with himself (and occasionally snoring in a very dramatic and theatrical way). He was perky and cheerful, though, thank goodness! He sat on my lap and was friendly and patient with all of the tests. He matched colors and played imaginatively with a baby doll. He occasionally refused to try something--he just said no. He did as well as he had last time: cognitively, he's the equivalent of a 24- or 25-month-old.

I asked whether we could hold the audiology for last, since it tends to upset Owen so much. I wanted to put off the physical exam, too, but actually there wasn't one; the doctor doesn't see them once they're off and walking. We went back to the waiting area, where Owen ate grapes and we read Curious George. Owen also helpfully meowed when a grandma a few seats away got to a kitty part in the book she was reading to her little boy.

We had our best session with PT ever! Owen was shy at first, but after a few minutes he clearly realized that every adult in the room was a rapt audience and he began to ham it up. The speech therapist (they double up with PT) got out a toy that Owen's played with before, the one where it's a barn and you have to match the front and back of the animals. For a while, the idea Owen seemed to have was that it would be nice if he and I sat next to each other, each holding half (not matching halves) of an animal. There was a kiddle chair that he claimed, and he would get up, do something, and then come back and laboriously sit down, first climbing on and turning around and getting his feet out from under himself. He got used to everybody and began to play, throwing a couple of balls around, neatly stepping over the balance beam that we wanted him to walk on. Last time we were with them, they wanted to see that he could step over it. He can't possibly remember that! I walked him on it once, but he wasn't interested. There were a lot of other things to do. He was busy and friendly and funny.

Owen still has some physical delays, which really doesn't surprise us. Their suggestion is to continue PT. Verbally, he's exactly where he should be! The speech therapist gave me some tips, most of which were exactly the things Karen and Robin have said; that was reassuring. We need to keep on expanding on the things he says, adding words. We need to ask him open-ended questions. One thing she said that I hadn't thought about much was encouraging verbs. I'm not sure how many verbs he has! We'll work on that. Sentences work better with verbs.

Last of all, we went to audiology. She skipped the tympanogram, which was fine because I'm pretty sure that's what they did to him a couple of weeks ago when Steve took him to the audiologist. He sat on my lap for the bahavioral hearing test. He'd brought Curious George with him into the booth, so I had to get him to lower it and pay attention. He passed his hearing test, and we were done. It was sad to leave for the last time.

We had some time, so we stopped at the mall to read books and look around. Owen did a lot of walking; at one point I think he started to follow a circle of red tiles on the floor and we made a big arc. It was getting dark when we headed up the highway to get Cara, and Owen fell asleep. He was so sound asleep that I waited in the parking lot for a few minutes in case Em came along and I could ask her to sign Cara out for me. It was better, though, I figured in the end, to let him wake up here than at home, if waking up was going to be hard. I carried him, asleep, all the way to the door, and he woke up as it opened. He saw his sister. "Dawa!!!!" He was a happy boy.

12/6/11 (Tuesday)

Cara helped me give Owen a bath last night. She got out some toys for him, two Playmobil people of hers who have always lived with the bath stuff. Owen was very excited about them; he kept insisting "mine!" and while he was willing to put them in the bucket of water for me to pour out (whee!), he wouldn't let Cara get near them lest she should reclaim her own.

This morning, on Cara's bed, Owen would drop whatever it was he was holding and then dive for it, exclaiming, "I got it!"

When Cara and I got to YBR to pick him up, Owen was playing happily with no interest in going home. Eventually, he remembered that there were neigh-neighs here. We assumed he was talking about toys, but I found out very soon after we got here that he meant the neigh-neigh in the movie Tangled.

12/7/11 (Wednesday)

While I was getting dinner ready for playdate this evening, I had to get a snack for Owen (he insisted). I got a little bowl of goldfish, which he had requested, and a big bowl of red peppers, a playdate staple. I put them on the table in the playroom, so that everyone could grab them when they went by. When I walked past the door again, I was astonished to see Owen sitting up at the table, having gotten onto the chair with no help at all!

He loves playdate. He doesn't play with the other kids, really, but he loves to have everyone over. He runs around talking to everyone (including himself, a lot) and being very funny. He's very good at saying "thank you, Ron," and "thank you, Em" at dinner. He told us "Ron help" when Ron refilled his cup. He loves Ron the most.

In the Muppet Dictionary, there's a page with a birthday cake on it. Every time he sees it, Owen says something Steve can't quite make out. Tonight, he definitely said "Ron." Ron did have a memorable birthday this year!

While Owen was in the bath, Steve said "no-ee" to him. This cracked him up.

As has already been mentioned, for bedtime reading tonight, we spent a very long time looking at our Muppet Dictionary. Owen determinedly and with great gusto identified Kermit by name whenever he appeared--even a few people who weren't Kermit. And every time he saw little Miss Piggy, he made his pig grunting noise.

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