Zoe posing for the camera in her new glasses.
Zoe's New Big Girl Role
Now that Zoe is a big girl and goes to preschool, she is starting to have jobs around the house. Currently, it is Zoe's job to feed the fish, oversea daddy cleaning the fish tank, turn off the light in her room, and sometimes Zoe will help us with preparing dinner.
Zoe's New Fish
Zoe adopted Brittany, the fish from school. After rearranging the classrooms this summer, Brittany no longer had a safe place to live. We were very excited to take her home. Zoe knows that Brittany is her fish and therefore, she has to take very good care of her. Gavin was just a little bit excited about having a second fish tank!
Zoe showing Brittany her rolling toy.
New Look for the Pony and New Walking Style
We used to use a basket on Zoe's pony with a toy in it as a way to motivate Zoe to walk. Lately, she became so interested in the toy that she would just stand there and play with it. So we have taken off the handle bars and basket so the pony is open in the front. Now, Zoe is able to get right up to tables, chairs, etc to reach things better. And she can see where she is going so she is not distracted from walking. We have noticed big changes in Zoe's walking style. She used to walk just for walking sake and just run around when in an open area. Which is typical of kids when they are first walking. Now, like an older child, Zoe will take off and run over to a toy or something she wants to play with but does not do a whole lot of walking for walking sake. She now expects to walk to get where she can play. We have set up different areas of the house for her to explore and play in. School has done a really great job with this as well.
The other way her walking style has changed is that her coordination has really come along. Zoe now gets a full gait going with opposite arm swinging at the same time her leg is moving forward. It is very exciting to see this development. Zoe can now back up and move away from things when she is stuck. Every now and then she gets really stuck and will squawk for help, but mostly she is very independent (and has to be watched or she will really take off!).
Zoe playing with her pom pom outside of her "bat girl" cave.
Zoe stopping to play with one of her favourite toys while walking around the living room.
And despite us putting up all sorts of fun sensory play stations and toys throughout the house, Zoe's favourite place to go is still the bathroom! Crazy girl! She now has the coordination to turn herself and go into the bathroom very easily and loves to just hang out in there signing "more." More what? More toilets? Who knows! You can see her signing more in this picture.
School has been great about working on lots of new signs with Zoe. We are continuing to work on signs at home too. Zoe is working on her animals right now and names for objects in her classroom. I have been working on feeling words and Zoe is doing an amazing job communicating. Something I did not teach her but she has started doing herself is to add "mommy" or "daddy" to her feeling sign to let us know which one of us is making her angry or sad. And she will label our mood too by signing "daddy tired." She is also doing a great job of vocalizing to get our attention and then signing. We joke now because she has become so vocal that we feel like she just yells at us all day long! She is not always patient but it is so great to see how much she is able to communicate despite her being "non-verbal."
New School Schedule
Now that Zoe is in Preschool, we decided to increase her days at school to three days a week. Zoe now goes to school Monday, Thursday, and Friday. Three days in a row were too much for her, she would just be exhausted by Friday and not get much out of it. This way she has some time to rest in between but is never away from school more than two days. Zoe continues to LOVE school. This past Monday I woke Zoe up to get her ready for school. She kept repeatedly signing she was tired. The conversation went something like this:
Zoe signs: mommy
Mommy says: Yes, Zoe?
Yes, Zoe. I know you are tired but it is time to get up.
Yes, Zoe. I know you are tired but it is time to get up.
and it repeats itself until Zoe hears Gavin in the kitchen. She then applies to daddy for help.
Yes, Zoe. Daddy is in the kitchen.
Yes, I know you are tired.
Yes, Zoe. Daddy is right there.
Ok Zoe, I will tell Daddy you are tired.
Daddy- Zoe wants you to know that she is tired.
Daddy says: Ok Zoe, I know you are tired but it is time to get up.
and on it continues until I answer with
Zoe I know you are tired but it is time to get up for school.
suddenly Zoe's hand stops in midair from signing "tired" and grasps the other hand in a "school" sign while a big smile spreads on her face.
Yes, Zoe you are going to school. That is why I woke you up.
School (signed while laughing and smiling)
Gee Zoe, I thought you were tired.
Shakes her head no and then signs "Zoe school"
Well I am glad that you suddenly got so much energy for school.
Yes, Zoe you are going to school
(Sigh) Yes Zoe, you are going to school
and you can imagine this continues for some time!
New Physio Schedule
At this point, we are able to back off from doing so many physio exercises and able to let Zoe run around the house and play to get her exercise. For a long time, we had to teach Zoe to put her feet on the ground. Now, she loves to walk and stand. So we are working on building her endurance and this is best done by letting her walk as much as possible. We take her over to Variety Village (a great wheelchair accessible facility with big smooth hallways and a heated pool) and just let her wander the halls. It is also great to see how many people know her. Many have commented on her not having her glasses the last few weeks. It is nice to have this sense of building a community that is getting to know Zoe. Some people I don't even know but they will say, "Hi Zoe" so I guess they know her!
Zoe also loves being in her stander and will stay there for up to an hour as long as she has something to play with. She LOVES playing in the sandbox or water table at school.
We do still have to do some arm strengthening/ compressions to get Zoe to put her hands out. She continues to put her arms down at her sides rather than use her arms to push up or brace herself when falling from a seated position. Just like with her legs, we have to program Zoe's brain to do what other kids do instinctively. We also continue to stretch her hips and hamstrings which continue to be very tight.
As always, Zoe continues to be very motivated to grow and build muscle tone. She does a great job rolling her toy back and forth to build shoulder strength, pushing buttons to build fine motor, etc. She is even building the muscle tone on her right side without us needing to prompt her to use that arm and hand. This is different than showing a preference for one hand or the other since it is a weakness in one side rather than a preference in the other. We used to have to prompt her a lot to use that right side, but she is now doing it herself. It is so nice to be at a place where therapy is becoming more play based and less funky exercises that make her scream!
New Health Routine for Genevieve
I am continuing to have some health issues this year. In 2005 I had an endometrinoma removed from my left ovary. At the time of surgery, the doctor also removed several more endometrial growths from my pelvic cavity. Since surgery, I have done well maintaining my health by eating well, getting lots of sleep, and acupuncture. As you can imagine, finding time for these things has been challenging since Zoe was born.
My doctor gave me a stern warning lately and I have missed quite a bit of work so it has been a real wake up call. My symptoms are much worse lately and interfering with my life. So I have recommitted myself to taking better care of myself, building my own muscle tone (how else am I going to be able to lift Zoe in the next few years as she gains weight?!), and getting back to acupuncture. My symptoms are such to suggest I may need more surgery but I have decided to hold off on that option for the moment. Surgery is not a cure for endometriosis and can actually cause more growths on the scar tissue left behind. Unless I am in danger (like last time- the cyst got so big that if it erupted on its own I could have lost an ovary and gotten very septic) I am opting out of surgery for now. Acupuncture has proven to be very effective in treating symptoms. I just haven't been good about going on a regular basis. I also started a hormone last April to help with pain and I am happy to report that the pain is getting much much much better. In April, the pain had gotten so bad I could not lift Zoe but would drag her from room to room on a towel (she actually enjoyed this!).
I think it is a combination of not being in chronic pain and Zoe doing so well that I am feeling much better mood wise. I feel like a new mom in some ways. There are days when I know I should sleep in (like yesterday- Gavin was home and got up with Zoe but I heard then giggling so I HAD to get up and see what they were up to) but I just want to gaze at Zoe all day long. She is so beautiful and I just love watching her eyes light up as she cruises the house and discovers something she can play with. I love hearing her "yell" at us. I even love when she is mad at me because I say it is time for bed and she signs "mommy" and "angry" with a very angry looking face so I know that she is mad at me! She has such a great sense of humour and I miss her so much during the week when I am at work that is is hard to take any time for myself to sleep on weekends.
So for now I am committed to taking better care of myself (something women in general are not encouraged to do in our society or my family). And I am really enjoying watching my beautiful and wonderful daughter play with my gorgeous and wonderful husband. They both make me feel like I am the luckiest mom/wife in the world.
After posing for the first picture on this page, Zoe giggled and signed "all done" like she was saying, "Please, please no more photos right now..."
Then she got serious- "all done" aka "look, I mean it, no more photos right now!"