Tuesday, September 7, 2010

A Few Trumanisms

"Mama, get out my face, please." (I dared come over and kiss him while he was watching a movie)

"Mama, you be so happy." (a regular phrase I hear on the phone when he calls to tell me about using the potty or getting a good school report)

Me: Truman, do you have dreams when you sleep?
T: Yes.
Me: What do you dream about?
T: Trains."

Mama, I getting bigger. I be as big as you tomorrow."

For those of you who know our pets, a common refrain at our house. "I love Flora. Flora is a nice girl. Tickles is not a nice cat."

And, when I don't respond immediately, he loudly calls for "Mama, Mama Kawa, Mama Kawa Price." And a first this weekend, "Mama Kawa Applebaumer Price."

Friday, August 13, 2010

A big first at our house!

What a wonderful call I got at mid-day today when Truman told me on the phone: "I poop on potty. Mama, you be so happy."

Monday, August 2, 2010


Over the last five months since the last substantive post, we have lots of updates. I think the primary change is that I started a new job about the time of the last post--a new job which no longer requires me to work nights and weekends, so I'm not turning on the laptop at home very often. I've gone in-house at a company here in Dallas and am loving it. While that's great for all our lives, it means less time on the Internet at home.

In late February and early March, we all went to Quebec for a week for the wedding of Truman's Uncle Jeremy and new Aunt Cindy. We had a lot of fun playing with the whole family in the snow, and Truman was a great traveler for such a long trip. In addition to an "American" wedding ceremony and a traditional Chinese reception in Montreal, we went to a sugar shack, to Quebec City, and to the Ice Hotel outside of Quebec City. We also did some inner tubing, cross country skiing, and general playing in the snow.

In March, Truman also tried his hand in a soccer clinic, which was a collosal failure. Rather than encourage taking turns and learning to follow instructions which we had hoped for, Truman did everything in his power to not follow the rules. So, at the end of the second session, we determined that we would skip the next four and try again next year. Also in March, Truman's Gramma came and spent a week with us for spring break. That meant a trip to the zoo, the Arboretum, the children's museum, and the park. It also meant the first attempt at potty training, which had no success. March also brought yet another unexpected snow in Dallas on the first day of spring (at least according to the calendar). I think that one measured seven inches. With the 12.5 inch snow earlier in the spring and the trip to Canada, Truman was an old pro at snow play--as well as the owner of bright red snow boots (thanks, Iotis for the hand-me-down!).

In April, Truman had a pretty bad bout of strep throat that caused the loss of a full precious pound of weight and some setbacks in eating. That month, we also took a trip to Lubbock for Easter. This was the first year Truman seemed to understand hunting Easter eggs. However, he had a tendency to open whatever plastic eggs he found and simply empty the contents on the ground. Knowing he can't eat most candy, that meant lots of melty chocolate candy left on the lawn of Covenant Presbyterian Church in Lubbock. At the end of the month, we walked in the March for Babies again. Team Truman finished third in all of Dallas with more than $6,000 raised. Truman was also featured on one of the big towers during the walk.

In May, Truman finished his first year of the Preschool Program for Children with Disabilities. While his teachers were happy with progress toward his speech and occupational goals -- more on that later -- we all feel like his issues related to classroom behavior, focus, and sensory issues have made little to no progress and still have a long way to go. Truman has a lot of trouble related to rough play and staying on task. The teachers do not believe his aggression toward other children stems from a desire to be mean or hurtful. Rather, they believe (and we agree) that it is an issue of impulse control, as well as communication and sensory issues. Once again, the Sensory Integration Dysfunction proves a tough issue to deal with. However, his teachers think Truman is on track to start mainstream kindergarten at 6, which is the year he would have started had he been born on his due date. That means another year of PPCD preschool and then PPCD kindergarten before he moves into a mainstream classroom, or at least that's the plan. The progress he made this last year in all areas, but particularly speech, is such a credit to his teachers. Yes, we work hard at home and therapy, and Truman was ready and willing to learn, but his teachers and aides have been fabulous.

May also brought our second trip to the Baylor NICU reunion. We got to see Truman's primary nurse who had such a major part of our lives. Interestingly, this time, the reunion felt very distant from our time in NICU and brought no emotion with it. I think it was a lot more emotional for her than us.

This summer, Truman started swim lessons again, began a parent-child program at the Dallas Museum of Science & Nature, and attended his first Vacation Bible School. This year, he has moved up to parent-free swim lessons. He has had visits from both grandmothers, and we've spent a long weekend with each set of grandparents. There have lots of hours in the pool, hours of playing with trains and dinosaurs, and chocolate chip cookies. We also learned in a recent measurement that Truman is now 37 inches tall.

In huge news, in July, Truman graduated from occupational therapy after almost four years. He had been in OT since he as in NICU. He measured on the upper side of average in every category. He also graduated, very smoothly, to a toddler bed from his crib.

In overall progress, Truman is talking more and more all the time. In a year's time, he has gone from barely talking (it was just June 2009 when he really began speaking) to naming dinosaurs, and characters like Pinnochio, using articles and pronouns, and asking today whether the phrase on my shirt was "Fantasia 2000." He now sings songs like Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star and the ABC song, as well as singing the phrase "T Rex" to just about any tune. He knows his alphabet and counts (and not just rattling off numbers in order, but really counting on a one-to-one basis). He also has started writing the letter "T" when you ask him to write his name and started deductive reasoning by correctly comparing new things he learns to things he already knows. He has memorized the names of more dinosaurs than I knew existed. Over the last several weeks, he has started pretending ... a lot. It is so fun to witness, as well as to listen his personal narration to himself about all the things that are happening in his mind.

One of the most impressive things we've discovered about his cognition is his musical literacy. We were riding in the car one day listening to a piece of music that is also featured in Fantasia in the piece that depicts the Big Bang and the evolution, life, and extinction of dinosaurs. The entire time the music plays, Truman is narrating to me what happens in the movie. He is getting so excited that it's clear he is actually picturing the events as he hears the music. At one point, he is silent for a long period; Ben tells me that portion of the music is not featured in the movie. Then, Truman tells me about how the dinosaurs died. A few moments later, he tells me how the dinosaurs were looking for food. I asked him how they were looking for food if they had already died. Ben then told me that's because the movie plays the movements of the original piece out of order. That is so impressive to me (and clearly genetic) because no matter how long I studied, I could never do that.

Finally, today in huge news--after months of regularly taking Truman to sit on the potty, it became clear that Truman was clearly able to use the potty, but simply unwilling. So, we decided to implement the commando method on Truman and leave him pantsless beginning about noon today. Truman used the potty twice yesterday and seven times today. This was after two previous successes in about four months. We hope we are onto something. After almost four years of washing cloth diapers and lugging a diaper bag, we're getting tired of this. So, this is a champagne day in the Price household!!

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Need help meeting my Team Truman goal

I promise to do some more substantive updates this weekend, but in the interim, I am proud to announce that Team Truman has surpassed its overall team goal of $4000 for the March for Babies because outstanding team members have far surpassed their individual goals! I, however, am $161 short of my personal fundraising goal of $2500. Please help me meet my goal and help spur Team Truman on to even greater numbers. Donate at http://www.marchforbabies.org/kaltenbaumer. No donation is too small, and every dime goes toward critical March of Dimes programs like life-saving research for babies.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Team Truman Update

I've learned that Team Truman was the 7th highest fundraising family team in Dallas last year for the March of Dimes March for Babies, but drumroll please ... we're currently in first place for Dallas for 2010. Here's the Dallas Family Teams blog where you can see the stats: http://www.marchforbabiesfamilyteams.blogspot.com/.

If you still haven't had a chance to support Team Truman as a walker or a donor and you'd like to, here's the link to my page where you can do so: http://www.marchforbabies.org/kaltenbaumer

Sunday, February 21, 2010

His father's child

Earlier today, I was listening to Bon Jovi in the kitchen while I made lunch. Truman kept coming in and saying "Tru loves Mama" and pointing at the iPod. Turns out it was his effort to get me to turn off the iPod so that Daddy could turn back on the John Williams CD from earlier in the day.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Awesome Weight Gain!

Between August and November, Truman gained 3.5 ounces. Between November and today, Truman gained 1 lb, 10.5 ounces. It was so much, I made them re-do it on the other scale because I didn't believe it, but he now weighs 26 lbs, 10.5 ounces.

He's also 35 inches tall now, which means he grew another inch during that time period as well.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

OT Graduation On the Horizon

Truman's occupational therapist told Ben on Tuesday that Truman is almost caught up to his peers in terms of occupational (fine motor) skills. She thinks that after his upcoming evaluation, he may graduate from OT. This is huge. He's been in OT since before he left the NICU.

Friday, February 12, 2010

A foot of snow in Dallas!

Below are pictures from the biggest-ever snowfall in Dallas. These are when about 7 inches had fallen. Another 5.5 inches fell before it was over. Truman wasn't a big fan of the falling snow, but we spent a lot of time playing in the yard the next day once the full snowfall had finished. We even made scooped snow off our diving board and made snow ice cream.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Oral Surgery Update

Truman had his oral surgery yesterday. They put him to sleep in order to remove his abcessed tooth, clean out the infection, and then build and install a spacer/bridge. He was out for about an hour and a half because of the time it takes to build the cast for the false tooth and to create and install the apparatus. He now has an infection-free mouth and a false tooth wired in. The tooth is wired to his back, so he now has a wire all the way around the inside of his top teeth.
The dentist said it was a really bad abcess and that they had to dig a pretty deep hole in his gums to get all the infection out.
He was a bit groggy most of yesterday afternoon and had a lot of bloody drool all day. At one point, we left him watch Mr. Rogers. His response, "Uh Oh, two Rogers." He had a similar reaction to seeing two Daddys. Once we let him get up and move around, he seemed to enjoy the stumbling feeling and all the falling down. He kept laughing at himself. He had a bit of a rough night sleeping. We kept him home from school so that he could sleep in as late as he needed after his rough night. Today, he seems fine.
He's having a lot of trouble talking and has made references to having funny teeth. I think it may take him a while to get used to the wire in, but I think in time, it won't be noticeable and he'll get back to his prior speech level. I think that's how most people feel about braces and retainers and stuff, but not having ever had anything orthodontic, I wouldn't know.
While they had him asleep and while the apparatus was being built, they did a thorough cleaning and did full X-rays. They said his teeth look great otherwise and are showing no signs of decay -- which is great both from a preemie perspective and because of the gene I contributed for really cavity-prone teeth. The dentist said we could wait another two years before another set of X-rays.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Back to physical therapy

Truman had a recent physical therapy evaluation. With his history, he has periodic PT evals and has been in and out of PT all his life. Unlike other forms of therapy (at least in Truman's case), PT is more short-term goal based. You set the goal, once you reach it, therapy ends until a new need presents itself. We had requested the most recent eval because he just seems awkward in comparison to his peers. Knowing his oral palsy issues and his past palsy issues in other parts of the body (remember the upside crawling he tried as a baby), we try to be hyper-vigilant about such things. Apparently, we were right.

Based on the results of his eval, his therapy clinic is recommending two sessions of PT a week to work on the following: (1) failure to run properly; (2) failure to jump properly; (3) improper floor sitting (apparently sitting with your feet behind you in a W formation is very bad for your physical development); and (4) core trunk strength. Presumably, a lot of things he does "awkwardly" or "improperly" are a result of overall muscle weakness, so things that might not seem like that big of a deal in other kids (like being behind in jumping) can be pretty significant to a kid with low muscle tone. At the least, it's something that needs to be addressed because it causes other problems.

So, that means that every week Truman will have two speech therapy sessions; one occupational therapy session; and two physical therapy sessions. And every two to three weeks, he will also have an hour-long feeding therapy session. Add to that three hours of special ed pre-school every day. This is one busy kid.

I really wish we could let him be a typical 3-year-old in some sort of Mother's Day Out program for a couple of mornings a week with the rest of his time to run and play and take trips to the park. As it is, his life basically consists of getting up, having breakfast and getting ready for school, school, therapy, lunch, nap, playtime with Mama in the evenings, bath, then bed ... every single weekday. At least, he seems to have lots of fun at school and therapy.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Like father, like son

So I knew Ben and Truman looked a lot alike, but check out this picture of Ben at the age of 8. As if you need help, Ben is the kid on the far left.
Then, check out this picture of Truman taken just last month.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Blog Updates!

Keep an eye out for lots of updates over the course of today and tomorrow. I've updated all the way back to back to mid-October 2009.

Best friends

Our smart little boy

Truman is learning things so fast now. He knows all his colors and even distinguishes between dark and light versions of the same color. He does sometimes get purple and torqoise (which he pronounces "turk boys") confused sometimes.
He can count to five and counts things object for object, which shows he is really counting. He can also look at a group of items and identify without counting individually whether there are two, three, or four items. When we ask him to make two items into three and such, he can often do it.

He knows his letters for the most part by individual sight. We're not sure whether he knows his alphabet in order, but we think he does. He will recite A-B-C-D consistently. Last night while reading a A-B-C Dr. Seuss book, he threw out T-U-V. This morning, he threw out L-M-N (0r something like it) while I was signing the alphabet song to him.
He knows his name starts with T and will tell you that his name is "Tru Pice" if you ask him what his whole name is. He also knows the street he lives on and the name of the street his school is on.
He knows all his shapes and can attempt to draw some of them if you really push him. He also knows the name of most of his books, lots of animals, the different kinds of emergency vehicles, what different cars of train cars are and lots of other great stuff. He also has an uncanny ability to figure things out. He is so amazingly bright. We are so proud and grateful and in such awe of all the things he was learning and couldn't tell us until recently.

Speech update

Truman is continuing to make rapid progress in speech, particularly in the addition of vocabulary. He seems to have a huge vocab and is starting to even use some correct grammar (like the proper use of I and me and such). However, his diction is still very bad and is still extremely hard to understand. We still use sign language to translate when we don't understand him. He apparently remembers all the signs we learned, including ones he never used while we were mostly communicating with sign. However, he has developed a really bad stutter that makes it very difficult for him to get out even a single word sometimes. His speech therapist thinks the stutter is just a symptom of the rapid speech progress and that he will outgrow it. We are not treating it, for fear that shifting the focus to it will slow his otherwise lightning progress.

He has also finally started to sing a little. He usually quits once he realizes we're listening, but it's so nice to see him finally doing this staple of childhood.

New smile

Take a good look at this smile. He's going to get a new one soon. Truman has an abscess in one of his two front teeth. It burst and has caused him a lot of pain. Once the infection is gone, he will have the tooth pulled and a false one put in.
His original dentist missed the abscess at his cleaning in December, but we had noticed some discoloration, but thought it was a typical tooth discoloration issue common among preemies (apparently enamel comes along later in gestation). Then I noticed what looked like a blister on his gums while we were traveling over Christmas. Well, soon after we got home, it burst. We took him to the dentist, who diagnosed the abscess and told us the tooth needed to come out. He also said that we would have to leave a gap because it wasn't safe to put Truman under in order to build the filler tooth. We were concerned about that for cosmetic reasons, but also for speech and feeding reasons. We didn't want to add yet another challenge in that area. Front teeth are kind of important from a functional perspective. After hearing Ben's report about why the first dentist didn't want to put some sort of filler tooth in, I decided that we needed a second opinion.
We found another dentist based on recommendations. The new office is fabulous and super high tech and confirmed my suspicion about Truman's first low-tech dentist. He was just scared of Truman's medical history. I'm guessing he's not the last medical professional we'll have that problem with during Truman's childhood. The newer dentist, who has an pediatric orthodontist and pediatric dental anesthesiologist he works with didn't bat an eye about the process. Truman will have to be put under in some form (I'm not sure if it's conscious sedation because Ben has been handling it) in order to keep him still long enough for the mold for the new tooth to set, but apparently this is common procedure. There is no more risk to Truman than to any other child, and being put to sleep is standard practice for many pediatric dental procedures.
The abscess was most likely caused by trauma to the tooth 8-12 months ago. I do remember a couple of big falls on our tile floor in the kitchen, one of which caused a lot of bleeding and made me worry about a chipped tooth at the time. We had no idea such things can lead to abscess.
I'm also glad about switching to a dentist with an orthodontist in the practice. We already know that with the size of Truman's jaw (due to both genetics and slow growth) and the palate re-shaping caused long-term intubation, he's most likely going to need some serious orthodontic work at some point. In other good dental news, x-rays show he does have all his permanent teeth hiding in his gums--something which is not a given for many preemies.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

March for Babies Team Truman

We are forming Team Truman for the 2010 March for Babies. Without the work of March of Dimes and the research it funds, Truman would not be alive and thriving today. Please consider donating or joining us at: http://www.marchforbabies.org/team/t1319264. The money we raise for March for Babies will support lifesaving research, services, education and advocacy that help babies like Truman get a healthy start and a healthy childhood.

This is the third year in a row for our team. Last year, we were the 7th highest fundraising team in Dallas. Please help us exceed that mark this year!