Almost Three

We have an almost three-year-old.

That’s hard to believe! Almost all of the kiddos in our due-date group have turned three over the past couple of weeks. I think Vivian was the last baby born out of the group.

Vivian’s birthday is a bittersweet thing for me. It’s a reminder of what happened to her, and a reminder of where she’d be at in life if her birth injury hadn’t happened. I give myself about 5 seconds to be sad about that now. Instead, I celebrate how far we’ve come and how happy she is and how much joy she brings us. I love her so much.

A lot has happened over the last 6 months. I always mean to write more blog posts than I actually do. She keeps us very busy.

I usually skim my last post to see where she was last time I wrote and this time, so much has happened since then. It’s pretty amazing.

Let me see where to start…

Big things:

In my last post we had just been up to BLENNZ Homai Campus in Auckland, where Vivian got her CVI diagnosis, and were expecting a referral to the Wilson Home Trust soon. That took a while to come through, and we finally went up this month. Ben and Vivian stayed up there for 2 weeks and I was there the weekend we flew up, the weekend in the middle, and the final weekend we came back. It’s a truly lovely place to go (location-wise) and they do a lot of good for a lot of children with disabilities or injuries, but we are so glad we’re home. We learned a lot up there. Ben learned a lot up there. Vivian really loved it. She was super happy most of the time, and just so engaged the whole time with the therapists and the people she met. It was really amazing.

We are also being referred to new pediatrician. We don’t know who this is yet.

Vivian had her dental surgery to cap her molars – it went really well, and the dentist even put white caps on her front top teeth too (and didn’t have to pull the one that had the big enamel defect and decay), hurray! So she has a beautiful smile (which I am so thankful for, because I hate my teeth), but when they first put her under, they noticed her tongue moving independently when she should have been completely out. The dentist and anesthetist thought it could be seizure activity, but the pediatrician wasn’t too concerned, and we haven’t even been given a reply after trying to contact our neurologist. Very thorough follow up there. That being said, we don’t think we’ve seen any seizures from what we can tell, and the pediatrician seemed to think it could be a retained reflect that infants have…I have no idea. It was unsettling on the day. She recovered pretty well afterwards, although coming out of the GA was terrible for her. She was so unhappy and just writhing for 3 hours until she passed out from exhaustion.

We also had the gastroscopy, which showed no damage to her esophagus and the biopsies they took came back normal. So no reflux. We have taken her off of the omeprazole and have seen no adverse effects.

We had a consult with an orthopedic surgeon, who thinks at the moment we should wait and see with her hamstrings and how tight they are. Her hips still look good from her latest x-rays as well. We may eventually try botox in some of her muscles to help her gain more range with sitting though, if he thinks it’s necessary. She has new ankle-foot orthotics too (all the way from the good ol’ US of A) that have a hinge on them, which means they give her a bit of flexibility when she’s crawling and sitting, but are supportive enough (I hope, but maybe not) to keep her ankles at a good right angle and aligned when standing.

We also have been referred to the Sleep Study department/clinic (after not thinking we would be), to see if a sleep study can be done on Vivian to get to the bottom of the discomfort at night.

Physical & neurological development: Vivian has started confidently crawling when she’s on the floor. Crawling out of her play room, into the hallway. Yelling at us if we don’t come to see what she’s up to fast enough. Crawling to the front door and licking the glass on the window (oh how she used to love the sliding glass door in the old house). We have a button on that front door that says, ‘Front door!’ when you press it, so she knows where she is. She likes to press this button.

She will sometimes crawl out and back into her room or her play room, or her bedroom. But every once in a while she heads towards the front of the house and ends up in the office, which she thinks is pretty boring because it’s dark. She likes to crawl to the light sources. She will not, however, pass from the hallway into the kitchen, because she doesn’t like the flooring in there. We have a long runner mat in the entrance way that matches the carpet. If you pull this out to the kitchen, she’ll crawl down it and stop at the end, not wanting to crawl the 3 or 4 paces to the lounge carpet. She is very particular about textures, this girl. Hoping one day she’ll crawl over everything, fluffy or smooth!

She is still W-sitting, which some of the therapists aren’t too thrilled about, but she cannot physically manage to long-sit right now (where you sit with your legs stretched out in front of you). Her spasticity pulls her out of this position and her hamstrings are pretty tight, which means it’s uncomfortable for her. She can side sit for a bit though, and has started getting herself into that position every once in a blue moon for a second or two, from crawling position. We will be getting a very small/low wedge to assist with this hopefully.

Ben says she’s started taking a few independent steps (which in this case means, she is starting to lift her foot up on her own, while being supported when standing) during PT sessions, which is very exciting. I hope we can build on that.

I’m still a bit concerned with her right hand and wrist, and her thumbs. We have thumb splints but always forget to put them on, to help get her thumb out from being tightly closed. We are working on a cylindrical grasp.

She is obsessed with slamming the drawers on the two bedside tables we’ve pushed together to serve as an entertainment unit for her TV. She’s obsessed with slamming any drawers within reach, actually. She’s also started to gnaw on these drawers, and managed to take the laminate off the top edge of one of them! We’ve temporarily fixed it with some black electrical tape, but she’s gnawed through that as well. We’re looking for something better (and more gnaw proof) to use, but haven’t found anything affordable yet.

I discovered she likes to play an ‘up-down’ game with me – I put her arm up and say ‘up!’ and then put it down and say, ‘down!’. She then will do this a few times, but likes to make me say up-down-up-down-up-down very quickly and thinks it’s hilarious. So in essence, she’s waving at us, but doesn’t know it yet :) The up and down with her arms is handy for getting dressed and undressed though. It doesn’t take any less time, but at least she thinks it’s a bit more fun and less annoying than she used to.

We also discovered that Vivian LOVES bouncing in a sitting position on a trampoline, so we are now applying for grants and funding to get her a Springfree Trampoline.

Eating: I would like for her to apply these gnawing skills to actual food but she’s still at the eating soft lumps stage. No hard food, thanks. No dry food (ew!) and definitely no touching food with her hands at the moment. She does play with food during ‘food play’ time – where Ben exposes her to crunchy textured foods, and food on her hands in a no-pressure environment. This is the hardest area for me. I am sad that she no longer wants to touch food. Or touch the spoon for that matter. But we have learned that it is going to be a very, very slow road to self feeding and tolerating new foods. And we can’t push her into it because we’ll create an aversion.

My suspicions about Vivian having some sort of sensory processing or regulating disorder or difficulty has been confirmed (although there was never really any question). She likes A LOT of input at times, and sometimes still gets upset very easily when something suddenly changes or stops (sound) or when she doesn’t want to be touched or cuddled.

But, good news – still no more seizures from what we can see, thankfully.

Hearing:  pretty much the same as last post. Not wanting to wear hearing aids. But, we couldn’t get the ABR (base hearing test) done when Vivian had her dental surgery! I really pushed for this, but the dental department just would not budge and give up their surgical time (of which they have a very small allocation for children) to do a test in theater that could take up to 2 hours. We had been told otherwise for a long time, and so this was pretty disappointing. At the end of the day, other things are more important right now. We have a check up this month with her hearing specialist so we’ll see how that goes.

Vision: Vivian is using her vision a lot more than she was when we visited BLENNZ, although it is the first thing she will shut down on if she’s tired or not feeling well. We still work hard to try and optimize her environment in therapies and daily life to make sure she can see the best she can. This’ll come in handy with her new PODD book.

Communication: We had our referral to TalkLink Trust come through and they have worked closely with us to try and figure out what AAC system might be best for Vivian at the moment, one which we can build on in the future. They are recommending a Pragmatic Organisation Dynamic Display (PODD) book, which I had already seen around online. I am so excited for this. I hope that Vivian can tell us more than basic wants and needs down the line with this system. If you’d like to see PODD in action, check out the We Speak PODD Facebook page. An amazing family doing amazing things to make sure their children’s voices are heard loud and clear.

This means Ben and I really need to get our A’s in to G and model, model, model, with Vivian’s new PODD book when it arrives. It can be a lot to learn, but the benefits will be so worth it down the line. The creator of the PODD system will be in NZ this October for some training sessions, so we will be going along to this.

They also will be recommending Vivian get a Classmate tablet, to help Vivian learn switching, so that maybe down the line we can incorporate PODD with switching (if Vivian doesn’t learn how to point or pick selections with a closed or open hand). This will have games on it that encourage Vivian to press a switch to make selections (or possibly even a two-switch system, one for moving the selection frame and one for selecting a frame).

Overall sleep and health:  Knock on wood, Vivian seems to be sleeping a bit better. There are still nights where she is up-down-up-down-up-up-up..until 4am..down until 5am, but now a few where she is only up maybe twice and quickly goes back to sleep. The major discomfort seems to be easing and we can’t figure out what the hell is happening, but we are taking all the sleep we can get! And Vivian is napping again during the day. I’m not sure if that’s part of it or not.

The pediatrician up at Wilson Home Trust had an interesting theory that it could be Vivian’s quads being overworked during the day and spasming or being triggered into dystonia at night, which would be very painful and could explain all the kicking. Or, it could be restless leg syndrome. Either way, she has recommended trying a very low dose of Baclofen or Gabapentin at night to see if one of these is helpful. It’s good feeling to know we have a plan if it continues, and to feel like we were actually heard and acknowledged from the get go with this pediatrician in terms of Vivian’s sleep.

And, we have a new bed for Vivian that is finally safe for her! No more falling out of the bed.

I think that’s everything! There is probably a lot I’ve missed or haven’t thought to include.

I have some questions for you readers, though. I have been considering moving this all to Vivian’s Facebook page. If you could please comment and answer these, it’d be very helpful.

Do you use Facebook?

Would you still read updates if I posted them solely on Facebook?

I know the style of this blog is pretty outdated, but I don’t have the time or motivation to move to a new theme right now. Something needs to change, though! Facebook would be a lot easier and central.

Anyhow, thank you for reading and hope you’re having a lovely weekend, wherever you are! Much love from the Hooper family.


3-Month Catch Up!

After my last post I sort of buried my head in the sand for a bit and let three months fly by with no updates. Oops.

Work has been very busy and I’ve become a Jamberry Nails independent consultant, which has been great fun so far and has given me some me time back. It’s been awesome having kick ass nails at a discounted price, too! Makes me feel more human on the bad days. I’ve also been going back to the gym, on days where Vivian’s gotten good sleep the night before, which hasn’t been a lot lately, but the past couple of weeks have been better.

It’s hard to remember what has happened three months ago, so this will be a bit jumbled.

Firstly, Vivian hit a year seizure free! Exciting!

Vivian One Year Seizure Free


Sleep (and other stuff) update: In early October we got her MMR vaccine, so she’s now caught up on all of those. That went as badly as you could expect – spotty rash about a week later. A few days after that a fever and just very grumbly overall. She had some good sleeps after that where she slept through from about 6pm to 6am and she was like a different baby the next day. So relaxed and chilled out compared to usual, and so much more focused during therapy. If only every night was like that!

Her first four molars came in around this time, so sleep again went out the window. Currently, only her bottom two molars are all the way through. The top two are taking their sweet time! Ben also was having teeth trouble of his own and was at the dentist every week for about 4-6 weeks straight. Fun times all around!

In late October, early November, Vivian started getting really constipated and having trouble with hard, formed stools that she really had to work to get out. Around this time she started sleeping even worse. Late night parties, crying, kicking, back arching. It was not fun at all. I thought it could’ve even been restless leg syndrome or spasms waking her as she genuinely was upset and not just wanting comfort and she would doze off and then jerk awake by bringing her legs up to her stomach. She was definitely in pain a lot of the time and it was really hard on all of us.

It was so obvious she was exhausted and wanted to go back to sleep but none of our normal tricks were working (singing, rocking, bouncing). It really took its toll on Ben and I, but mostly Ben and Vivian, as he tried to let me sleep because of work, bless him.

We had a check up with our hospital pediatrician in November, but saw one of the doctor’s registrars instead of our actual pediatrician, because she herself was sick. The registrar suggested we up Vivian’s Lactulose dose from 12ml a day to 20ml to help pass the stool. We were concerned about this as Vivian already struggles to get enough fluids in. We are still working on teaching her to drink water from a cup and she refuses water from a bottle. Lactulose should be taken with a full glass of water because it sucks the water from your system into your bowels to soften your stool.

Well, after this, her sleep got even worse. She would bring her knees up to her stomach and just thrash around and cry :( At this point we didn’t realize it was probably the Lactulose causing her to have stomach cramps and really bad gas. Someone suggested we ask our therapy team if they had any continence nurses who worked with them. Normally continence nurses don’t see children as young as Vivian, but when the nurse heard that Vivian was on such a high dose of Lactulose, she was quick to say that amount would cause even an adult to have some really painful side effects and suggested we try a different medication, Movicol.

So we did, and the result was pretty much immediate. Over the past two weeks we’ve had a good handful of sleep-throughs after some early waking for a bottle, which we haven’t had for almost three months. It’s been great! And Vivian’s had softer, more manageable stools. Winning all around.

Equipment update: Vivian got her new bed in the end of September; it’s fantastic. We transitioned her from the hammock over to the new bed pretty much straight away and she took to it really easily within the first night of trying. I got over my mopey feelings about it once I saw how happy she was in it.

We also got a GoTo Seat for Vivian, but haven’t really had a chance to get out of the house and use it anywhere! As soon as we got approved to get this seat, the makers released the new and improved version (that isn’t available in NZ yet, boo!), so Vivian has the older version. It’s basically a portable, high-backed seat with a five-point harness and sides that come in slightly to keep Vivian from slouching to either side.

And we are still working with Vivian to spend time in her standing frame each day. We ended up keeping the second one we tried, which is on wheels and has a removable tray that can be angled towards Vivian. It’s a better model than the first one we had (not on wheels, no tray/work space attached).

Vivian Standing Frame

And Vivian has some new kicks for the summer, a sandal version of the Piedro boots she was wearing over the winter. These are only on loan until we get the pair on order for her in the next size up; fingers crossed she doesn’t wear them down too much in the next few weeks!

Hips update: Back in October (or was it September?) Vivian was examined by the “hip lady’ – a physio who specializes in orthopaedic health (I think?), to see if her hips were developing correctly. She wrote a letter about her exam…which explained how Vivian’s hips flex and at what angles and a lot of stuff I don’t fully understand. She didn’t seem too concerned with Vivian’s range of motion, but because Vivian isn’t walking or crawling, referred her for hip x-rays.

Apparently a letter was sent out to us with a date for said x-rays but it never arrived (surprise, surprise) and thankfully the hip lady followed up on Vivian missing the x-rays with our therapy team at the Champion Centre. If you miss an appointment here, nobody calls you. You’re labelled as a ‘no show’ and it’s up to you to get referred again and rescheduled for a future appointment! Pretty awesome, considering we had no communication reach us about the appointment, right?

We mentioned this to the registrar at Vivian’s pediatrician appointment and she was able to pull some strings and get us in for x-rays that afternoon while we were at the hospital. They came back fine, from what we’ve heard (no news is good news?), so it sounds like Vivian’s hips aren’t shallow or at risk for dislocation right now. Given how many times we’ve fallen through the cracks in the system, I’ll be requesting copies of the notes to see anyway, for my peace of mind.

Weight and height: I think I mentioned previously that we were still working hard at getting Vivian to gain some good weight – we’re still working on this, but the dietitian is happy with our progress.

Longlegged Vivian

I can’t remember how much she weighed at the doctor appointment, but I think it was just under 9kg (so she’s finally doubled her birth weight!), and she is 80cm tall. Half my freaking height, and not even 2 years old. Ridiculous. Thanks, Ben’s genes! So she’s in 18-month sized clothes right now, which are loose on her but tall enough for her. A string bean, she is.

Eyes update: At our last ophthalmologist appointment, the doctor downgraded her lenses to a weaker prescription. We got transitional lenses because Vivian’s eyes are still pretty sensitive to sunlight. I really hate them because they’re dark even indoors and we usually put her in sunglasses outside anyway. He also said she most likely wouldn’t need surgery to correct her strabismus but it’s not always very apparent, and I’m wondering if it wasn’t really on the day he saw her. When she’s tired, very excited, or focusing on something very close to her face, there is still a strong inwards turn to one or both of her eyes. Another thing for me to follow-up.

Vivian Reading BLENNZ Book 2

BLENNZ sent some really awesome, handmade books made especially for Vivian from the Jellybean Club (I’m guessing it’s a group of lovely individuals who volunteered their time to make the books for kids with vision impairments).

They have lots of textures and just one main image/item on each page, which makes it easier for Vivian to see in comparison to regular books. She adores them and will spend up to an hour exploring them with her hands, but mainly her tongue.

Vivian Reading BLENNZ Book

Eating update: Vivian is still going strong on eating soft solids and we’ve mastered the art of eating soft lumps in her food as well, as long as the food itself is pretty wet. She still doesn’t like to really touch her food or bring it to her mouth on her own, but is pretty accepting of almost anything on a spoon.

Vivian Eating Al Fresco

On Christmas she tried her first taste of turkey, and scalloped potatoes (with ketchup, of course). She definitely loves ketchup! Turkey she could take or leave. With foods like that, we have to actually give her a very tiny piece and shove it past her tongue, into the side of her mouth, or she’ll just spit it out when she thrusts her tongue.

She’s started liking oatmeal for breakfast, with finely chopped dried cranberries (it’s what I could find in the pantry). No cinnamon though! It’s the only thing we can peg down that she dislikes in store-bought baby food.

Therapy updates: Vivian is rolling both ways like a champ now. Shortly after my last post she really started going for it! Sometimes she still gets her arms stuck behind her when rolling from front to back and I fear she’ll dislocate her shoulder because she just keeps trying to roll over on them. I think we need to work on this while I’m home this week. Here’s a video from the week after she decided she wanted to roll both ways:

We’re still working on sitting up unassisted, but Vivian is making some good strides there. Last week, she sat unassisted for about 15 seconds, which is her current record. We’re also working on getting her to open her right hand and bear weight on her right arm while sitting, and working on developing her protective reflexes that would mean she could stop herself from falling over while sitting. It’s been slow going in this department but she is bearing weight more and more on her left side. We hope her right will follow.

Vivian Sitting at Champion Centre

Now that she’s rolling both ways, she’s spending a lot more time on her tummy than before, and is starting to bear weight through her left arm and push her torso up. She has been opening up her right hand a lot more than before when on her tummy and reaching with her right, which is great. We also want her to bear weight on her right arm here, too. She’s also been bringing her knees up every once in a while, but never while she’s bearing weight on her arms. One day, we hope! Then she can start rocking and that leads to crawling.

Vivian has started seeing an occupational therapist (OT), who is really lovely. Vivian adores her and I think the way she approached Vivian initially has a big part in this. She wore the same top every time she came over, and always approached Vivian from the same side, and never ever got right in her face, taking into account Vivian’s CVI (corticol vision impairment). She is working with Vivian to get her to understand her own body and to explore new & different toys, and is also completing a sensory profile on Vivian.

Vivian’s speech language therapist (SLT) has given us Vivian’s very first switch, which we can record messages on. We are working on Vivian calling us using the switch; so we might record Ben saying, “DAAAAAD!” and if Vivian is playing on the floor in the living room and she hits the switch, he’ll come in and see her. This is only a week in so we haven’t seen much to report back with but will keep you posted.

Other fun stuff: 

Vivian likes to finger paint! She tried it for the first time at the Champion Centre back in November, to make some Christmas decorations, and we’ve done it again at home with her once. Will be doing a lot more :)

Vivian First Fingerpainting at Champion Centre

We went and saw Santa for the first time in early December at a special ‘Sensory Santa’ session. They booked appointments for kids like Vivian before the mall opened, so no crowd, no mall music, and no waiting in line. She had a hellish night before so I was going to take her by myself and let Ben sleep, but he joined us and it went really well.

Vivian's First Picture with Santa

She was a bit of a wiggle worm and although Santa had her on one leg at first, he ended up having to hold her pretty securely in the middle of his lap to keep her from arching backwards. His beard was pretty funny and it looked like it was tickling her so she had a bit of a grin without us needing to get her to smile, which was great because I had to stand so far away from her I couldn’t even get her attention. The sounds were bouncing around the open area of the mall and she would’ve had a really hard time hearing us trying to get her attention.

She fell asleep immediately after getting her picture taken and we walked around the mall while she slept. Ben and I grabbed breakfast together in the food court and it almost felt like a date. It’s the first time we’ve actually been out and about, like a normal family, instead of going to and from appointments with Vivian. It’s hard to believe we’ve never taken her to the mall, or even into a grocery store before that day.

We had a quiet Christmas at home with Vivian; we’ve just been focusing on making every day a good day while I have time off of work. Ben’s parents came over to exchange gifts and brought us some really yummy food and then headed to Ben’s brother’s for Christmas lunch. We would’ve gone, but our car is in the shop and Vivian’s car seat is in our car. I got to catch up with my family back home via Facetime on Boxing Day, which rocked, and Vivian and I have been taking walks every day. It’s good exercise for me while I can’t get to the gym and it’s great to get Vivian to sleep :)

PHEW. I think that’s it. I’m sure there’s heaps I’ve forgotten.

Wishing you a very happy New Year! Much love and drooly kisses from Viv ;)

When the Days are a Blur

This happened:

200 Days Seizure-FreeWoo hoo!

The rest of the days are a bit of a blur, as Vivian has been up most nights with stomach pain, from what we can tell. I think it’s related to starting solids. And when she wasn’t up with stomach pain, she’s wanted to have a party at 3am for an hour or so.

I made up a batch of pears purée, not realizing exactly how fibrous pears were for little baby tummies. Although she enjoyed it a lot(but the texture freaked her out a bit),  we had a bit of a double whammy with carrot and pear in one sitting, which caused her to have a sore bum. I think it’s going to take a bit of time for her to adjust to eating solids, but since she’s our first kiddo, we don’t really know what’s normal and what isn’t.

Ben and I are both so excited by Vivian’s interest in solids, though. We just can’t get over it. I had a teary-eyed moment at work when Ben sent me this image of all the food she ate in one sitting, without getting much on her bib. It was a very special moment that I don’t think I’ll forget any time soon. I am so mushy even looking at it again now.


Vivian’s milk intake has still been on the low side, and she had a temperature for a day or two this week. I think if she was coming down with something she would’ve displayed more symptoms by now, but she’s just been super fussy overall during the day, too. I don’t know if this is the start of teething? Something else? Whatever it is, it’s not been fun!

Vivian has been extremely fussy during her physical therapy sessions as well, which isn’t like her. I’m not sure if it’s tiredness due to crappy timing or again, if she’s just not feeling well.

We have ordered a custom wrist brace for her right wrist, because she tends to hold at an unnatural angle. Hopefully it helps. If she does it because of high muscle tone, it might actually be bad to use, because then her muscles will strengthen by pushing against the brace. It’s all very up in the air. We do try to correct her wrist position, but it’s hard to do it all the time. You can see it in the image below; it usually happens when she’s sitting and wanting to interact with toys.

Eating Mr. Snail

Update on the missing ophthalmologist notes: the eye doctor gave us a last-minute appointment last Tuesday to clear things up. He thinks he must have seen another two babies with some severe eyesight issues, and may have superimposed one of their cases onto his recollection of Vivian’s case when he wrote that latest letter to me. Her original prescription is correct, and yes, she should wear her glasses as much as possible. They are definitely making a difference in her strabismus and her vision. Glad that’s been cleared up!

He still thinks it’s too early to test for corticol vision impariment, and said that the test would do one of two things. Either give us a really good reading and show that Vivian’s eyesight is working normally (as in sending signals in a timely manner to her brain), or give us a crappy reading, which could just mean that Vivian isn’t paying attention during the test, or that Vivian’s vision isn’t working properly. He said the second instance wouldn’t give us great information to go on.

I am still wanting to know what BLENNZ will say though, so we’re proceeding with the assessment in early May with them.

Until next time, big hugs from us to you!

Baby food, Bath-time & Babbling

Ok, time for Vivian updates. The weeks keep going by so quickly, it’s hard to recap!

We’ve been on a bit of a high after our neurology assessment the week before last. Getting that news that we could look at weaning her off of her maintenance med if the spasms stay away was really exciting.

Overall the past two weeks have been pretty easy-going. Ben is finally over whatever virus he had and Vivian and I didn’t get it (phew)! We got into a bit of a sleeping routine where Viv would be asleep pretty early at night (but still waking to have milk and go back to sleep). Then she got some really bad stomach upset over Easter weekend. She was up every night for an hour or two in a lot of discomfort. I think it was me not getting a good balance of hindmilk and foremilk in her bottles. She is past it now but it was really poopy to see her so unhappy.

For physical therapy, we are still working on rolling and putting weight on her arms, as well as sitting up and grasping objects for longer than a few seconds. She’s started grabbing her left toes easily with her left hand and will cross grab to her right foot now too. She still doesn’t really do much with her right hand, though. I’m worried about her right wrist constantly turning at an awkward angle. Ben’s going to ask our PT about that this week to see if there’s anything more that we can do. Maybe a brace? I don’t know.

Her glasses really do seem to be helping, as well as her hearing aids, although she’s becoming really good at getting one or both of her hearing aids out now. This usually happens when she’s laying down and can rub her face on something or rub her ear against her shoulder easily.

We’ve also been back to the hearing specialists, who have begun preparing Vivian for reaction hearing testing. I’m not sure how well it will go, but it will be interesting to see. Basically whenever Vivian hears a sound and turns toward the sound, she is rewarded with a puppet show.

It took her a couple of tries, but she got there in the end. She would mostly “still” when the loud sound played, instead of turn towards it, which is still a positive sign. We didn’t think to bring her glasses to the appointment (doh!) and so it was probably hard for her to really see the puppet, and honestly, the office is pretty distracting for her visually, so I’m not surprised by this. We’re due back in another month for some more testing.

Food-wise, Vivian’s intake has been a bit all over the place over the past two weeks. It’s not been as good as it was last month, with her volumes ranging from 500-700ml. Not sure what is going on there, but we’re working on it (as always).

We’re still experimenting with solids, and yogurt is still Vivian’s favorite food, after her milk of course. Carrot & kumera were probably the next favorite, but only the homemade version. The store-bought Wattie’s organic stuff didn’t go down awesomely. Pear got the nod. We tried a bit of bread today, with her yogurt. It got really mushy, really fast. Maybe a bit the size of a pea made it into the back of her mouth.


Purées have definitely been the way to go! I made up a batch of carrot purée today and put some coconut cream and breast milk and a knob of butter into it for some extra calories. Hopefully Vivian won’t have any reactions to the butter.

We did offer her the spoon today and she actually tried to get it to her mouth, which we were not expecting. This was during yogurt-eating though, which is the only food she’ll actually open up and attempt to bite the spoon for. Yogurt is tasty!


We are looking at getting her a high chair this week. I think I’ve found a model that will have a high enough back and some shoulder straps to help support her like her therapy chair does. It’s getting hard to feed her on the floor!

One other awesome thing that’s happened is Vivian has finally discovered that bath-time is fun. Before now, baths could really go either way; she would either tolerate them with mild curiosity, while staying incredibly still in the water, or she’d have a meltdown of epic proportions.

Water is for kicking, she says! And kicking she does, very well indeed! So well that she can get Ben’s face wet while he’s standing in the doorway of the bathroom (6 feet up in the air). I’ve found the safest place is down low next to her; no splashes there :)

And lastly, Vivian’s babbling has come back in full force. I think maybe while she was working very hard on getting some rolling down, her babbling took a back seat. I was starting to get worried. We are still being referred to a speech-language therapist to start speech therapy soon (we see one at the Champion Centre and one from ACC, but neither have approached us about Vivian’s lack of speech yet). I am happy that she is starting to produce new sounds now – some L sounds and some M sounds. Experimenting with her tongue more, etc. And blowing TONS of raspberries! So. Much. Spit.

Big hugs from us to you. Slobbery kisses from Vivian. She loves to tongue my cheeks at the moment, but not Ben’s. They must be too hairy?

Versatile Blogger Award Goodness

A little while back, Yashikibuta nominated me for the Versatile Blogger Award!

I really couldn’t believe it when I read her comment — it was definitely the last thing I expected to happen after taking a couple months off from blogging! :)  Thank you so much for nominating me, Yashie! <3  If you haven’t seen her blog, Thriving Pessimist, you should check it out — her dogs are as spoiled as my kitties! She definitely loves her furbabies :)

When you’re nominated for the Versatile Blogger Award, there are seven things you need to do:

1.   Nominate 15  fellow bloggers.

2.  Inform the bloggers of their nomination.

3.  Share seven (7) random things about you.

4. Thank the blogger who nominated you.

5.  Add the Versatile Blogger Award picture on your post.

Well, I’ve got 4 and 5 down, so I guess it’s time to do the rest!

Seven random things about me:

– Somehow I find it easier to clean the house when Ben isn’t home.  I have no real idea why this is a fact, but it is.  It takes me a lesser amount of time to get things done if I’m home alone, and I have a stronger feeling of contentment about it when it’s done.  Probably because I know it’s not going to get messed up again in five minutes (kidding, Ben, kidding *cough* )

– I love bad reality TV shows.  I know that makes me a horrible person, but it provides a nice distraction at the end of a long day.  My favorites include: Geordie Shore, Wife Swap, Come Dine With Me, and Jersey Shore.  Don’t judge.

– I weigh more now than I ever have before and it freaks me out, yet I’m having trouble sticking to a solid diet (or healthy eating/smaller portion sizes) and exercise plan.  :( Something I struggle with on a daily basis.  I’ve managed to lose 2kg in the past few weeks, so that’s a good start, but I need to stick with it this time!  I don’t eat horrible food, but I don’t get enough exercise and I know this.

– I would call myself a Pagan at this point in time.  I practiced Paganism for almost 10 years of my life, before becoming a Buddhist, but Buddhism just wasn’t doing it for me.  I would like to find a group of Pagans to celebrate holidays here in New Zealand, but I’m not sure where to start looking.

– I sometimes isolate myself when I’m going through anti-social bouts.  It could be a mild form of anxiety, but it’s definitely not because I don’t want to see people.  I’m not sure why I do it, but yeah. I wouldn’t say it’s depression, but a general feeling of “I’d rather stay home than go out somewhere” can, and does, happen with me sometimes.  I’m getting better at pushing that aside.

– I would love to volunteer at an animal shelter one day when my work schedule allows for it.

– I love socks.  What do I want for Christmas usually? Socks. Why? There’s a 5th dimension in my house (wherever I live) that eats socks.  I’m not kidding. This is absolutely the truth.  So when you see a website like Not Socks Gifts, just know that socks will always be a welcome gift under my tree ;)

11 bloggers I’d like to nominate for the Versatile Blogger Award:

NZ Ecochick

Craving Fresh

My little corner of Rhode Island

Moon over Martinborough

Jimmie Chew

Promenade Plantings

Sarah the Gardener

Eight Acres

Nigel Gnome Grows a Vegetable

Moonlight Micro-Farm

The Kitchen’s Garden

I had a hard time listing the blogs to nominate, as I read so many at the moment, but these 11 really stood out lately! :) I do think a few of them have already been nominated for this award, but I don’t see anything wrong with someone being nominated more than once — definitely check out those links if you’re looking for new blogs to follow!

I love spam.

It’s been a while since I posted! Apologies!

I spent the rest of my annual leave frolicking in the garden,  catching up on good television and laying around with my kitties.  And getting engaged!  I think most of you saw that one, though.  I just wanted to type it.  Again.  I swear I’m done saying it now :)

Tomorrow now & gwen will resume to regularly scheduled posting with a Snapshot sort of Sunday post for you to enjoy.   Today I want to share with you my love of spam.

Not spam in a can.  The spam I receive here!  The comments lately have been amazing.

Here are some of my favorites from this week, along with awesome cat pictures, because the cats have all told me that they’re not getting enough face time on now & gwen.  I picked photos as random as the spam.  Enjoy!

Oddly sleeping Damara

Hello! Would you be interested in trading links or maybe guest authoring a blog article or vice-versa? My site discusses a lot of the same subjects as yours and I think we could greatly benefit from each other. If you’re interested feel free to shoot me an email. I look forward to hearing from you! Wonderful blog by the way! — Navy seal spam site

Why yes! Your site does discuss the same subjects as mine.  I would LOVE to guest post on your blog!  Everyone knows I like to jump out of helicopters and run around with a gun and do other navy seal sorts of things, like gardening and playing with my cats…

Oddly sleeping Leon

In my house when I take bored, after that I just ON my PC and open YouTube web page to watch the YouTube video lessons. — Youtube spammer

Me too!  When I take bored (which really isn’t often), I just ON my PC and open YouTube to watch the video lessons too!

Like lessons on how to win at being a funny cat!!

And then the ultimate comment, made of much win…

The gift of Leon! Not spam!

With it, I had a pork belly sandwich, which I chose after some dithering because face it, I love pork belly.  — Dithering pork fan

I’m not sure what that had to do with my Plantnappers & Christmas post, but hey.   Some people just love pork belly sandwiches, and want to tell the world about it while using interesting vocabulary, like dithering.

Can you say random? Have you had any awesome spam love lately? Please share!

New Year’s wishes

I can’t believe this year is over.

It’s gone amazingly fast (most of it), except for when I was waiting for seeds to grow and moaning on here about that!

We’ve had some awesome things happen in our lives this year, for better and for worse.  I’m hoping 2012 brings more happiness for the now & gwen house, and that the ground stops moving in Christchurch.  I already have new ideas for the garden next spring if we’re still in this house by then.  I guess only time will tell :)

Starting this blog is probably one of the best things I’ve done for myself in ages.   I never really expect people to read it, but it’s always a blessing to receive lovely comments from you, and it’s been awfully therapeutic for me.  I’ve needed an outlet for a while and gardening, while quickly becoming my most favorite hobby, is quite a solitary experience for me.  It’s been wonderful reading so many blogs and (e)meeting so many lovely bloggers out there!

Things are still full steam ahead outside!  I picked my first King of Blues beans today and blanched them in some salt water.  They tasted amazing, and were longer than my hand — I wasn’t expecting them to grow so long!  The kittens had to inspect them before cooking, of course.  In the picture, I’d snapped all of then in half, so picture them twice as long as that.

I think this variety of beans would be really great to grow if you have kids.  Watching them turn from a dark, purple-black to green while they blanch is lots of fun!  The magic happens very fast. :)

I also tied up the peas a bit more today, and pushed them over the top of the fence so they’ll grow in that direction instead of flopping over.  Some of them have started to yellow.  I’m not sure why exactly!  I’ve always read that peas don’t need much fertilizing/feeding, so I haven’t really feed them in a while.  I’m wondering if it’s a deficiency or if they just really dislike being so close to spring onions.

I picked a bunch of sugar snap pods and lots of huge snow peas that I’ll be eating for dinner tonight!  I’ve found that the pea pods have a really sweet smell when you pick them, even though the flower has dropped off of it days before then.  It lingers on your fingers like marigolds do when you’re deadheading them.

I moved the red sail lettuces from bed #2 to bed #1 to make room for all the tomatoes and capsicum plants.  They were touch and go for the first day, but they’re settling in nicely and look like they’ll be bolting this week.  We had some really hot days last week that made my green lettuces bolt, so I pulled them from bed #1.

I spotted our first tomato today as well and let out a little cheer!  Nearly all the full-sized tomato plants and pear tomato plants have flowers on them now.  In a few weeks I think we’ll get a lovely first crop!  I can hardly wait :)  We’re going to attempt making our own chutney & tomato sauce with what we harvest in 2012.

The nemophilia is looking as lovely as ever, with the white snowstorm poking up through the baby blue-eyes.  I think this flower will be a keeper for me.  I’m going to look forward to growing them every year.

Best wishes from now & gwen to you and yours! :) See you in 2012!

Liebster Blog love

now & gwen was nominated for a Liebster Blog Award by Emma at Craving Fresh a few days ago! :)

Leibster Blog Award
The Liebster is awarded to spotlight up and coming bloggers who currently have less than 200 followers.  ‘Liebster’ is a German word meaning dear, sweet, kind, nice, good, beloved, lovely, kindly, pleasant, valued, cute, endearing, and welcome.  There are a few rules to follow when you’ve received a Liebster Award:

1. Thank the giver and link back to the blogger who gave it to you.
2. Reveal your top 5 picks and let them know by leaving a comment on their blog.
3. Copy and paste the award on your blog.
4. Have faith that your followers will spread the love to other bloggers.
5. And most of all – have fun!

I almost fell out of my chair when I read Emma’s post.  Thank you, Emma!  This really means a lot to me! I think I’ve linked to you at least half a dozen times in the last month and a half, lol! But in case anyone missed any of those links, you really should check out Craving Fresh.  Emma’s posts are always wonderfully informative and you can tell that she’s really committed to finding healthier, greener ways of life for her family.

Here are the 5 blogs (in no particular order) I’d like to give a Liebster Award to:

1. Kitty’s Super Allotment  — Kitty’s blog is a bit of a mix of gardening and awesome story-telling about her allotment adventures.  She also posts really tasty recipes that I’d like to try one day! :)

2. Diary of a Mad Hatter  — Teri is constantly making me laugh with her posts.  Her blog is self-described as a place to share her personal stories, unsolicited opinions, and ridiculous, nonsensical thoughts, all of which are based on Real Life with a sprinkle of hyperbole and a dash of exaggeration.  And it’s the truth! Love it!

3. Boys Smell — Beth is a good friend of mine, and her blog almost always makes me actually laugh out loud before I get to the end of a post.  It’s a nice one to read to take your mind off of whatever’s worrying you in your day.  And it’s something I think everyone can relate to — all the crazy little things that your other half does to drive you completely insane.  You are not alone.

4. My Sunny Side Up Life  — Connie’s blog is a beautiful blog to scroll through.  Her posts are thought-provoking and her words are wonderfully put together.  She offers great parenting ideas and is really down to earth, which I love.

5. Dancing with Frogs — I haven’t been reading any of these for terribly long, but this blog became a fast favorite of mine.  It’s quite possible she has well over 200 readers, as she’s been blogging for a while!  Frogdancer is a mother to 4 boys and the way she blogs about her garden & day to day experiences never fails to make me smile.

It was super duper hard for me to pick only five blogs to share with you –and it was extremely difficult to gauge how many followers each blog has, so if I’ve made a mistake, please forgive me!

I hope you check out these blogs — I really think you’ll like them!

Thank you again, Emma!

Today’s ponderings

Just a quick post from me today — I know I said I’d do a garden update, but after spending a lot of time outside in the sun today, I just want to snuggle with cats and watch the new SoHo channel on Sky.  They’re playing A Game of Thrones! Expect mucho garden pictures tomorrow, I promise.

Here is what I’ve been pondering today:

Should I keep blogging every day?

Yesterday was the last day of the Ultimate Blog Challenge.  I enjoyed the challenge, and completed my 31 posts, but I can’t help but feel that the challenge was aimed at bloggers who run businesses.

Even though my blog isn’t probably what that challenge was created for, I did enjoy blogging every day when I could, so this month, I’ve decided to give NaBloPoMo a try.  National Blog Posting Month was originally in November, but it happens every month, so it’s something I can stick with, I guess?  The community there looks much more varied and I think I’ll like it a lot more, and if you do post every day in November, there are prizes to be won! Awesomesauce.

I guess I don’t have to think about making that decision anymore, since it was settled when I wrote the second paragraph.

Should I put Mr. Courgette in the raised garden bed?

Mr. Courgette is doing well in his pot on the back patio, but a slug got to one of his leaves (or perhaps snail…I’ve seen heaps in the compost bin).  I’m wondering if he’s big enough for me to put in the raised garden bed without fear of him being plantnapped. I think he won’t be vulnerable to slugs & snails in the garden bed, as it’s surrounded by gravel and they apparently don’t like it?

I have compared him with a picture of Ms. Courgette when I put her in the garden bed, and she looks to be a bit bigger than he was, so maybe I’ll wait.  I’m still not sure.  The plantnappers haven’t been back, as far as we can tell.

I shall mull this one over tonight, and decide tomorrow.

Should I move this blog to my own site/server set up?

I would love to hear from more experienced bloggers about this.  Obviously I’ve only just started blogging, so I’m not really planning on moving anywhere just yet, but it would be nice hearing what the pros and cons are from bloggers who have had blogs on wordpress/blogspot/etc. and moved their blogs to their own websites.

I think the main reason I’m considering it is because I’d love to one day be able to have the kind of blog that supports itself somehow.  I guess I’d have to tie myself down to a narrower subject matter for that, but one can dream?

I would also like a bit more freedom when it comes to what’s actually on the sidebars of my blog, and the design, too.

What have you been pondering lately? Care to give me any advice on my ponderings? :)

Giving credit where it’s due: pictures in blogs

I recently read a blog post that had some really nice pictures in it.  Beneath each picture, the author had put “Source: Google Images.”  It was a really lovely blog post, but the picture sources made me cringe every time I saw them.

I realize that copyright laws and the internet can be pretty tricky to navigate, but something tells me that ‘Google Images’ isn’t the true source of any picture out there.  Google is a search engine that produces images as the results of what you’re searching for.  It doesn’t actually put the original pictures up for you to see.  A human does that, and most times, it’s the human who took the pictures, or a company that paid for those pictures.

Some people may read this and think I’m nitpicking, but it’s something that really irks me.  I also know that it’s really hard to enforce these laws, but it doesn’t mean we should use other people’s work without their permission just because we can get away with it and they’ll most likely never find out.

Look at this trippy pasta picture!

I might be hella pissed if I found out someone was using one of my images without my permission, but then again, as long as the person doesn’t claim they took the picture, I probably wouldn’t mind if they used it.  This is why in my last post, I used a picture from — I found a picture that I was allowed to use freely, as long as I gave credit to the original photographer.

You can take pictures yourself, or find pictures that you have permission to use.  I strongly believe in giving credit where it’s due, and I urge you to do the same, if you’re a fellow blogger!

I did some googling myself and found this great article on blogging rules & etiquette from and will definitely do my best to not steal anyone’s work while publishing my blog posts.

This article goes over what is allowed and not allowed when it comes to using pictures on blogs, and I really think every blogger should read it when they create their first blog.

Please don’t be a picturenapper! <3

Image source: Abillis

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