Here's what's been going on in the last few weeks:
- Tooth #2 made its appearance next to Tooth #1. I just love seeing her toothy little grin!
- New words! Elsie can say "mama!". She also imitates me when I say "walk walk walk!"; it sounds kinda sounds like "gok gok gok" but I know what she's saying and that's exciting to me. Same thing when I say "tickle tickle"; her version sounds kinda like "kick kickle".We've been working on saying "Uh oh!" when she drops something, and she's said it a few times, but usually what happens is she'll drop something and then turn to me with her mouth in a cute little "Oh" shape and it's really just funny and adorable. She cracks me up. She can also shake her head "no" when she doesn't want something.
- Still cruising around like crazy. I know I've been saying this for the last few months, but she really is sooo close to walking on her own. She has stood up without holding onto anything for several seconds three times in the last 24 hours, which I've never seen her do before. We've been working with our physical therapist to help improve her balance by holding her hands and walking with her on uneven surfaces like grass or wood chips, and her legs are getting stronger and stronger. So, the first steps are coming. Or maybe she'll just be a cruiser for the rest of her life, who knows :)
- Stair climbing! I actually think Elsie has been able to do this for a few months now, but we try to keep her away from the stairs for safety reasons and haven't given her many opportunities to try going up the stairs. But she totally can climb up stairs. We're still working on how to go safely down the stairs, but that will come with time.
- Drinking from a straw! This one is pretty huge. We have been working in feeding therapy lately on drinking, either from an open cup or a cup with a straw. She has done pretty good at accepting the cup or straw in her mouth. We have been using a honey bear straw cup, which looks like this:
Basically, it's an empty honey bear container with a straw coming out the lid. When you squeeze the bear, the liquid goes up the straw. So if you have a kiddo who doesn't know how to suck or how to drink, the parent can control the flow of the liquid by squeezing the bear. We started out by gently squeezing water or milk into Elsie's mouth. She was kinda surprised at first, but now she thinks it's pretty fun. And just this week, she started sucking water up the straw all by herself!! She spits most of the liquid out as soon as it goes in, but she swallows small amounts. We also let her drink from an open cup, but that usually just ends up with one or both of us getting soaked, which is ok, because that's how you learn.
And taking sips of liquid all by herself ... well, I hope you can understand what a big deal that is. She hasn't voluntarily drunk (drank? drinken? drunken?) any liquid since she was in the NICU, about a year ago. Even more exciting is that, generally speaking, most tubie kids who are learning how to eat orally have a hard time with liquids, especially water. If you think about it, water is pretty hard to control in your mouth because it is so thin. Thick liquids like a milkshake are a lot easier to handle because it is thicker and slower to move in your mouth. If you don't have very good oral motor skills, thin liquids can be scary because they are hard to control, which can lead to choking and aspirating. I've heard of lots of tubies who are now eating orally, but need to keep their feeding tube for liquids, because the child won't drink enough to stay hydrated. So ... for Elsie to be taking small sips of water all by herself, even though she's spitting most of it out, it's huge. Monumental. Amazing!!
Elsie has issues with strangers, which to her, means anyone outside of me, Clayton, and Evje. She's very shy and timid around other people until she feels comfortable with them. Hopefully this will improve once she is walking on her own and more confident with herself, but until then, if she glares at you when you touch her or talk to her, or if she starts crying if you try to pick her up, don't take it personally. She acts like that with everyone! Elsie is very loving and affectionate with her immediate family. She laughs more with Evje than with anyone else. She loves to sit on my lap and climbs all over me and Clayton. She loves to be touching me in any way that she can. In fact, I often have a hard time getting things done nowadays because Elsie is always holding on to one or both of my legs, one of my arms, or grabbing my hand. She loves to cuddle. Elsie is such a sweetheart, with a sunny, cheerful personality. At least, when no one else is around, that is :)
Happy 17 months, baby!