While the overall score was great to see it was the questions each section asked that helped me gage better than anything what to expect next, and what areas to observe in her. Her communication skills, for example, are a big challenge for me. I spend most of my days in silence with maybe some music in the background. Her and I work quietly for most of interactions and I forget to engage her by talking to her whenever I can. By knowing her development level in that area and knowing that I am not really doing a lot to encourage her in that area it gives me guidance on where I need to direct my focus during the day. One of things I am doing is remembering to speak to her more, encouraging her to use her consonants rather than grunting, growling and grring, and taking her out more during the day so she can hear the ebb and flow of daily conversation and not just the stuff at home and with family.
I have started taking her to play groups now as well. At her 9-month well baby visit she noticed and met an 18-month old, and she was quite fascinated by this little person who looked so much like her. She has been around other babies and toddles before, though rarely, and hasn't given them any special interest. Seeing her react with recognition that this child was like her but not the same as an adult showed me that it was definitely time to get her out among her peers. So we went to a reading event at the Tempe Public Library and then played in the play area afterward. She really enjoyed herself and was tuckered out by the end. I was really happy to see that she did not throw a fit when the older kids took the various toys she was holding but rather stared at them with a perplexed expression and then shrugged it off and went and got a new toy. While I don't know for certain I expect that this calm, non-nonchalant, attitude probably won't last forever. That's ok though we'll simply cross that bridge when and if it comes about. I was also really happy to see that all the time I've spent teaching her to be gentle and respectful to all the cats and dogs we have has translated over to other children as well. I told her "gentle" a few times when she was introduced to another kid and she responded by not thrusting her arm out and batting at or grabbing them but instead reaching out and petting them the same way I've shown her she needs to be with the animals. She really is a super smart little munchkin.
A side note: After I came home last night I actually remembered to take the recycling bin out to the curb. To which the universe responded by rewarding me with the perfect entertainment center for only $10. Kimberly has started pulling herself up on everything and playing with (see hitting, chewing on, and yanking) everything she can reach. This has made it annoying since the only good place we had to keep the DVDs, videos, and video games was in places she could reach them and same with the PS2 and DVD player. This entertainment center has everything either behind glass or in cabinets except the TV itself, thus removing the game of "Keep Kimberly from Breaking the Electronics" from my daily routine. A bonus point is that it goes great in the room. I can't wait until we paint this room and put in non-beige carpet because that will make this room shine and I hate just beige and white (which is how things are now).
More pictures here.
This picture was taken just today:
Not every preemie is able to overcome their challenges like Kimberly did so I encourage everyone who is interested to donate, even just a little, to the March of Dimes.