Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Happy 5th Birthday, beautiful Andrea the Second!

Before school this morning. Ready to take the day by storm.
As of 5:29 PM today, Andrea is officially 5 years old and celebrating day 1,827 of life.  Boy, that calculation is getting harder to do as the years pass.  I have to keep track of the leap days.  Andrea is now 42 inches tall and weighs 28.4 pounds (or 12,882 grams)  Remember, at the beginning, she was 10.5 inches tall, and 450 grams.  I get a kick out of making the pounds to grams conversion, because at the beginning we were so very excited about every little weight gain, no matter how small.
Today is significant for so many reasons.  Earlier today, Ken and I formally registered Andrea for Kindergarten.  Yes, the 15-ounce preemie is beginning her public school career in September, in a regular education classroom. No early intervention once she was discharged from developmental clinic, no special accommodations in the classroom.  It’s a milestone we couldn't even imagine 5 years ago.
Officially a member of the class of 2027.
My friend Ron made her a "onesie" when she was a baby,
 predicting she would be Prom Queen in 2027.
I have a feeling he was on to something!
Over the summer, Andrea attended day camp for the first time.  She was with a group of other 4-year-olds in a half day program right in town. Every day there were crafts, sports and games, and the six week session culminated with a "camp show" of singing.  She also took swim lessons at the YMCA during the school year and at the town pool over the summer.  She loves the water, as long as she can touch the bottom.  She is still very fearful, even when wearing a life jacket, if the water is over her head.  Since she's getting taller, her range in the pool is expanding, so I am forced into ever deeper icy water to keep track of her.  I don't know what it is about these kids, but they seem happy to swim in melted ice.

Those of you who are my "FaceBook friends" got to experience Andrea's first trip to Disney World.  We went down on the autotrain, an event it itself to a 4 year old.  She enjoyed the compartment and the fold down beds, and managed much better than I would have expected, given the confined space.

We spent a week staying in a Finding Nemo suite at the Art of Animation Studios, and Andrea wore a different princess dress each day.  For her, there were probably two main highlights of the trip.  She was truly a "princess" every day we were there.  Seriously - every single "cast member" called her Princess, which she saw as her due, anyway.  

Sleeping Beauty. This was at the Princess Dinner.
Snow White. We spent this day in Epcot.
Rapunzel, back at the hotel before heading to the pool.
The other highlight was a makeover at the Boppity Boppity Boutique.  I fell apart when her "fairy godmother in training" sprinkled glitter "fairy dust" over her; I just started crying.  So then I had to explain to the staff about the NICU nurse who sprinkled "fairy dust" on Andrea's isolette to help her grow big and strong.  By the end, we were all in tears.  Andrea, of course, just enjoyed the fuss - hair, nails and makeup from head to toe.  (Or just about, anyway!)

Post makeover, in her Cinderella dress and Boutique sash.
At the Lion King show in Animal Kingdom, Andrea happily left the family behind to go dance with the cast.  She gleefully waved at us each time she passed by, but had no fear of being on her own.  I think she liked being in the spotlight.

After the week in Disney, Andrea, Kenny George and I went on to LegoLand, while Daddy and KC flew home.  Andrea loved LegoLand almost as much as Disney, because there, she was big enough for the ROLLER COASTERS.  Yes, she is a speed demon, who LOVES coasters.  I am not a fan, but went to make her happy.  She loved every minute.  I had to tell a little white lie - "you are only allowed one ride per day" in order to get her to move on to other things.  If I hadn't told her that, she would have just ridden the same ride over and over!

We also took what was probably our last trip to Sesame Place in Langhorne, PA.  Much as it pains me to admit it, Andrea was never as big a fan of Elmo and company as Kenny was, and at 5 she is "too big", at least in her own mind, to visit Sesame.  So, we are off to bigger and better things in the future.

In September, Andrea began another year in pre-kindergarten near my school, where she has learned more than I ever expected from pre-K.  She can write her first and last name, count to 49, and read and write some basic sight words.  She is taking piano lessons at school one day a week as well.  

In December, she make her "formal" acting debut as the littlest angel in the Christmas pageant at St. George's Episcopal Church in Maplewood.  She was happy to be "on stage" with the big kids, and was paired with an older girl who acted as her "guardian angel" throughout the show.  She sang and danced and basically stole the show with her appearance.

Health-wise, Andrea is fine.  She has asthma, but so do most of the people on the Zimmerman side of her family. She is allergic to peanuts and tree nuts (seriously so) but so is one brother and one cousin.  We'll probably never know what is a result of her prematurity and what is just the way she was made.  She is about the 39th percentile for height, but still only about the 3rd percentile  for weight.  How I wish that was my problem!

Recently at school, Andrea was the "Star Student".  (Each child gets a week of the year to be celebrated)  As part of her week she had to make a poster, including pictures and text about herself.  According to her poster, right now, her goal in life is to be a lifeguard when she grows up, which I thought was interesting.  She actually told me she wanted to be a "life saver", so I asked for clarification.  She did mean the people in the pool, but maybe she'll go on to save lives in a different way. I believe the doctors learned a lot from treating her, and hopefully that knowledge has gone on to save other very small babies in the 5 years since Andrea joined us.

Until next year, thank you for being a part of Andrea's ongoing story.

When we do the best that we can, we never know what miracle is wrought in our life, or in the life of another.
~ Helen Keller