Happy/Sad

Lydia made a hand puppet at school. One side is happy. One side is sad. 
She told me that she’s going to keep it by her bed so that when she wakes up, she can put it on her hand to show me if she’s happy or sad that day.
But, she said, “I’m probably always going to choose the happy side.”
I hope so, my dear, and I will try to do the same.

Lego Fest!

We went to Lego Kids Fest this weekend and it was a blast! The girls had so much fun! We had a bunch of fun too!  We’re excited the girls are into Legos because it means we get to play with them too!  Lots of exclamation points! !!  I didn’t take my regular camera because I wanted to concentrate on having fun, instead of being behind the lens, but I did capture some cute shots with my phone! 
Chewy! The big Lego statues were pretty awesome.

My favorite – Harry Potter!

The girls love the new girly Lego sets.

There were group build spots throughout the show. The girls were busy creating little scenes.

My bearded man and a bricked bearded man.

We brought Legos home with us! 

We all scream for ice cream

Ice cream is a big time favorite in the P household. BIG TIME. We love ice cream. All flavors. All kinds. When we moved into our new town last fall we were delighted to find out that there are four ice cream shops nearby – three mom and pop shops and a Dairy Queen. We were quite deflated when we found out that the Dairy Queen is seasonal. It closed in October, but thankfully, it’s back open now!  We have frequented two of the four ice cream shops in the past week. It’s ice cream season for sure.
We were all just minding our own business on a quiet Sunday afternoon, with the windows wide open because it was a beautiful day. What’s that?  What’s that noise?  What’s that beautiful music we hear?! It’s an ICE CREAM TRUCK in our neighborhood!! We were jumping up and down for joy. We frantically rounded up all the change we could find and sent the girls out to get their goodies. 
We’ve never had treats from an ice cream truck because we lived on a super busy street before. Our new neighborhood is a cul-de-sac street! Perfect for ice cream trucks!  In fact the ice cream truck man told us he’d come back frequently this summer!  HOOORAY!  Honestly I think my husband and I were just as excited (and maybe a little more) than the girls were! 
They are patiently waiting across the street for the ice cream truck to turn around at the end of the street and come back.

Glorious glorious ICE CREAM!

We’ve been having some wonderful weather around here. I hope it stays! We bought the girls new shorts and new flippy floppies this weekend because they’ve both shot up like weeds since last summer and outgrew their old summer clothes. Probably from eating lots of ice cream!! 

P family portraits awwwwww!

Awww, aren’t we cute?! I think we are cute but I’m biased. 

Our shoes!

This is such a sweet pose.

I really like this one of Mike and I!!
THIS picture CRACKS ME UP! We all have half-smiles on our faces but LYDIA is all out smiles! Her smile and the way she’s holding her hands cracks me UP! Arlene looks really enthused doesn’t she? HA!
Many thanks to my cousin Leah for taking these photos of us!

Petting sharks

This weekend we went to our local Aquarium and the girls had a blast. All Arlene could talk about a day before going was that she wanted to pet a shark, because you can do that there.
Turns out when we got to the shark tank Arlene got a bit scared and didn’t want to put her hand in the water. But Lydia was all into it!

The penguin exhibit was our favorite. Lydia was so excited that she knew the names of the penguins. She’s especially fond of macaroni penguins. 

We ended up bringing home a macaroni penguin!

FAQ about tip-toe walking

I started writing about my daughter Lydia’s tip toe walking when she was three years old. Since then I’ve written updates on the processes she’s been through: physical therapy, AFO braces and serial casting. I thought it might be time to compile all of my posts into one FAQ type of post. I receive many emails from concerns parents about their child’s tip toe walking and I still encourage anyone with questions to contact me. I am not an expert, not at all. I can just speak about my daughter’s experiences.

Q. When did your daughter start walking on her tip toes?
A. Lydia walked on her tip toes right around the time she began walking. She didn’t walk exclusively on her tip toes all the time, just from time to time. But, as she got older, she began walking on her toes all the time. A typical walking gait is heel-to-toe. Lydia walks on her toes, so the pads of her toes hit the ground first. She can and always has been able to walk heel-to-toe when prompted, but only when prompted. Her natural stance is to be up on her toes. If she tries hard to walk on her flat feet, she is indeed walking on her flat feet. It’s not heel-to-toe stance, it’s completely flat-footed. We thought the toe walking was cute at first and just something that she’d grow out of. She never grew out of it and in fact walked higher and higher up on her toes as time went on. A person who walks on their tip toes all the time ends up shortening their leg tendons, essentially making it impossible to walk correctly in a heel-to-toe way because the muscles aren’t wired to walk that way anymore. Lydia has very tight leg tendons because of her toe walking. When we first asked her doctor about it at her three-year check up, he sent us to a physical therapist.

Q. What is the first thing you did?
A. Lydia received physical therapy two times a week for her toe walking. The therapy consisted of stretching her muscles with various exercises. We were given exercises to do at home. They didn’t seem to make much of a difference. Because of the toe walking, Lydia has amazing core strength. It takes muscles and strength to hold yourself up on your toes all the time. I have tried to walk how she does and I just can’t do it. My calves ache and I can’t keep it up. Lydia is a strong girl. During her physical therapy, we worked her muscles and tried to re-train them, but no progress was being made. The physical therapist suggested Lydia wear corrective AFO (ankle-foot-orthodic) braces. Read this post here about her braces for toe walking. The physical therapist also tried using squeaky shoes with Lydia. The shoes were super cute – they had little squeakers in the heels, so Lydia had to walk correctly heel-to-toe to make them squeak. Those weren’t effective. While cute, they didn’t work. She’d never get the things to squeak.

Q. What other therapies did you try for the toe walking?
A. After the squeaky shoes, the physical therapist suggested serial casting for Lydia. You can read my thoughts about that in this post. We felt that option was severe and didn’t want to do it. Instead Lydia wore AFO braces at night. You can see pictures of the casting for the braces here. And some pictures of her wearing the braces here. The night braces didn’t work.We were able to stretch the braces correctly {the braces had velcro straps that allowed you to angle her feet up higher and higher as time progressed. We were able to make progress on increasing her angle over the course of her wearing the braces.} but, Lydia would wear her braces and would do a great job keeping them on without complaint, but as soon as they’d come off in the morning, she’d be right up on her tip toes.

After about six weeks of the night brace treatment, the physical therapist suggested day braces. As you can read about here, I wasn’t too keen on that idea, but I knew something needed to be done. This post here has pictures of her day braces. I was so nervous for her to wear the braces to preschool, but no one ever said anything about them. She wore them like a champ. They slowed her down a bit, but only a little bit. Basically the braces themselves didn’t slow her down; it was the bigger shoes that slowed her down. She had to wear shoes that fit over the braces, so her shoes were 3 sizes too big.

Lydia didn’t wear braces 24-7. She wore the day braces about 8 hours a day, had about a 2 or 3 hour break, then wore her night braces. As soon as she was out of the braces, she’d be right back up on her tip toes.

She was having physical therapy weekly up until this point but then stopped for about three months. Lydia wore her day and night braces. That summer, which was almost two and a half years after we began physical therapy, we decided to do serial casting. We were initially skeptical of this option because it seemed severe. During Lydia’s four week serial casting, both of her legs were put into casts. The casts prevented her from moving her ankles and feet at all. The casting weakened her calf muscles and tendons, therefore weakened her ability to walk up on her tip toes. I wrote and took pictures during the process:  week one, week two, (and week twoweek three and week four. Each week the angle of her foot was raised so that her tendon was able to stretch the correct way, to enable heel-to-toe walking. The serial casting worked WONDERS. Lydia could not walk up on her tip toes after it was completed.

Lydia then got new, bigger day braces because she had grown out of her old ones. Here’s some pictures of her in those braces.  She didn’t wear the braces to school because she was in kindergarten at that time, only for half a day. She wore the braces when she got home and for the rest of the day.

Fast forward six months.

We saw an orthopedic doctor about Lydia’s progress. The doctor was pleased that Lydia’s tendon and muscles were able to be stretched out with the casting and the braces. However, she told us something very important, something that changed our opinions completely about this whole process. You see, Lydia’s tip-toe walking never bothered her. It only bothered us occasionally because honestly we just didn’t want her to be walking differently. But her tip toe walking never ever hindered her behavior. She ran on her tip toes. She has a twin sister (who works with a typical heel-to-toe gait) and Lydia always has been able to keep up with her sister. That doctor told us that some kids are tip toe walkers. They just are. And as long as Lydia’s toe walking isn’t bothering her, then to just let it be. We were relieved to hear this. And honestly, all along we felt that way. We were willing to do what we needed to do to try to help Lydia along, but we always had the stance that it was just something she did, and that was okay. The doctor told us not to over-medicalize the issue. We were told it was okay to just let it be. And that’s what we did. No more braces, no more physical therapy. We knew that Lydia would eventually regain muscle strength and be up on her tip toes fully again. We were okay with that.

Q. Did you ever suspect a developmental delay because of the toe walking? 
A. One of the first questions we asked was if something more was wrong with Lydia, because sometimes tip-toe walking is related to sensory issues. Lydia does not have sensory issues nor any type of developmental delay. She has fine muscle structure and tone. She just walks on her tip toes.

Q, If you were to do it all again, would you do serial casting first?
A. Yes, we would do serial casting earlier. If we were to have done serial casting when Lydia was three years old, at the start of her therapies, we wonder if that would have made a bigger difference. We’re not sure if it would have or not, but we are curious about that. Serial casting sounded so harsh and severe. But it was not. It was fine. Lydia did fine with the casts. She actually enjoyed all of the attention. We did the serial casting during the summer, which was an ideal time to do it because Lydia didn’t have to wear the casts to school. We did take her out on outings while wearing the casts. People just assumed she broke both of her legs. (yowee!) We explained to some that she was getting therapy for toe walking, hence the braces, but to others we just let them think that. Lydia would tire out when we’d go to the grocery store because the casts were heavy. But, she was able to walk and do activities as normal.

Q. How is Lydia doing now? 
A. Lydia is now seven. She’s up on her toes as high as she used to be. We’re still letting it be. Occasionally we will correct her. For example, when we are both standing and I’m doing her hair for school, I notice she is wobbling slightly. So I ask her to stand on her flat feet. She does. She lowers a couple inches and is still. No one has made fun of Lydia for her toe walking. We were always so fearful of that. But so far, no one has poked fun. The difference from three-year old tip toe walker Lydia and seven year old tip toe walker Lydia is that seven year old Lydia is fully aware of being a tip toe walker. She isn’t chastised for it, we don’t ever yell at her for doing it or tell her it’s wrong or she’s bad … but she’s aware that it’s not normal walking.

I wrote about Lydia’s progress here in blog post last year. In that post I explained that we’re still letting it be. I also asked Lydia then if I could take photos of her tip toe walking to put on my blog. She was hesitant about it but said okay. I told her there are other kids that walk on their toes and their mommies and daddies write me emails after reading my blog about her experiences. She was happy to hear that other kids were toe walkers, because we have never come across another kid that walks like Lydia does.

Last night when I told Lydia I was going to write a blog post about tip toe walking she asked why and I told her I was writing about an update. She asked if some parents still ask me questions. I said yes. She was okay with it. I asked her if I could take a pic of her feet and she said no. I was okay with that. Instead she wanted me to take pictures of her with her new pom poms. Ok then, will do.

I don’t think that Lydia is embarrassed by her toe walking. I think, rather, she’s just aware of it. As she gets older, she’ll either just stop, or, she can ask us to help her. If she gets to the point where she wants to stop, but can’t on her own, then we can pursue physical therapy, braces or serial casting again. Because Lydia is older, and much stronger and more developed, it will take some doing on her part to walk heel to toe. She will have to work harder at not walking on her toes. But all of this is up to Lydia, not us. As the orthopedic doctor told us, some people are just toe walkers. If Lydia is a toe walker her whole life, that’s perfectly ok. Lydia is Lydia and we love Lydia no matter what.

So, that’s where we are. My overall advice? Parents, trust your instinct, and don’t try too hard to fix it. There are things out there that work, but this is a long road, regardless. I don’t believe there is a quick fix. The therapies essentially “fixed” Lydia’s walking for about six months, but she’s back up on her tip toes now. And that’s not necessarily wrong or bad. It just is. We’ve been at it four years and will have to address it again when Lydia asks us about it. We sometimes wish we would have been more aggressive with therapies and treatments when Lydia was three, but we don’t know if that approach would have worked or not. Time will tell what will happen and if we try a new therapy I will update this post.

As I said at the top of this post, I get a lot of inquiries about toe walking. I still welcome those questions. I’m not an expert but I am more than willing to share our experience.

Feel free to leave a comment below. If you’d like to email me directly, my address is: twostartwins@gmail.com