Thursday, May 31, 2012

Warning Label

Abby has a way of charming people. It is amazing to watch. Even strangers can't help but be affected by her delightful personality, but if you have prolonged exposure to her you'd better watch out, because you just might find yourself falling in love with that little kiddo. I know you think I'm exaggerating - after all, I am her mother - I'm supposed to have an inflated sense of my kid's talents and likability, but it really is true. Take Dermyer for example.

Last year Abby was in afternoon preschool, and since it was only a half day program, and since both Jason and I work full days, Abby came to my school and spent a morning in preschool there. After lunch the bus would swing by our school and pick her up for her afternoon program. Now, since I have a classroom of students, and Abby certainly wasn't the only child her morning teachers had, Abby would hang out in our school office with "Dermyer" - also known as Mrs. Dermyer. Abby has this wonderful way of getting right to the point, and it has only been recently that she's started to ascribe the necessary "Mr." or "Mrs." to adults' names, but Dermyer was familiar to Abby in her "pre-title" days, so she will forever be known simply as Dermyer. On those mornings when Abby and Dermyer would wait for the bus Abby worked her charm to the fullest. It was not unheard of for Abby to kick Dermyer out of her chair and then command her to dance - and Dermyer would comply happily - Abby seems to have that effect on people. Oh those two had such a blast together. I know that both of them enjoyed that time in each other's company. Although it was short each day, I believe they got to know one another over the year. Their affection was mutual and dancing became their "thing". Whenever they would see the other joyful dancing was soon to follow.

This year was the first since Abby was three that she wasn't in the same building with me, and I will tell you, I had a hard time walking into that building by myself for the first  few months. The thing is, I wasn't the only one that really missed her smiling face. I had the principal, other teachers, and even parents of other students tell me how much they missed seeing her - oh, yeah, and Dermyer, of course. I can recall several conversations where we would both tear-up when talking about how much we missed having her there during the day. Now, the two of them have been able to see each other throughout the year, like at Abby's birthday party, or those odd days when I have school, but Abby doesn't, and even when Dermyer stopped by to drop a surprise off for Abby when she had the whole "finger episode", but it just isn't the same as seeing her everyday. So when I heard from Jason that he had a meeting he couldn't miss, on the same day I'd scheduled an end of the year field trip for my class that would have us getting back in town later in the day, I turned to Dermyer for help.

Dermyer not only agreed to pick Abby up from school and bring her back to her house until I got home, but she was excited to do so. She told me she couldn't wait to get her "Abby fix". Abby was thrilled too when I told her that Dermyer was coming to her school to pick her up at the end of the day. Her eyes got huge as she slowly sucked in a big breath of air - her "tell" that she is excited about a special surprise just for her.

Three peas in a pod: Abby, Dermyer, and
the adorable Miss P.
Today was the day, and when we got back earlier than I had expected I got a text from Dermyer telling me that they were good, and if there was anything I needed to do, to go ahead and do it. You don't have to tell me twice - and there were a few last minute teacher gifts I wanted to pick up, so I took off for my errands. The pictures that kept showing up on my phone told me that they were all having a blast, and I suspected that by the time I pulled into the driveway to pick her up, Abby would be finding a hiding spot - not wanting to leave. I was spot on with that. Dermyer told me that when she announced that, "Mom was here!", Abby yelled out, "No!" Typical. My little party animal hates it when Mom comes to spoil her fun. Finally, with the promise of a surprise I'd picked her up while on the field trip, we were able to herd her out of the house and into the car (still wearing Dermyer's daughter's frilly skirt - which will be returned tomorrow). With a wave and a big, "Thank you" we were off.

As I got home I got another text, this one telling me that Dermyer's daughter asked when Abby would be able to come over again. I can't tell you how much that made my heart happy, and it just proves my point - the longer you are around Abby, the more you fall under her spell. Maybe I should get some kind of warning tag to put on her clothes, something like "Prolonged exposure may result in feelings of tenderness that result in a strong attachment." Nah, it's far too much fun to watch people unknowingly fall under her spell.

So, thanks Dermyer for your help today, and for the fun that you provided for Abby. Abby summed it up the best though as she told me when we got home, "Great day, Mama. Great day."

Abby immediately made friends with the
four-legged family members. Kail girl is on
the look out.

"Have you met my new friend, Tucker? We
go way back."

Abby and darling Miss P.

P helps Abby construct a crown. It seems that
even when she is away from her "castle" she
expects to be treated royally.

Even queens can take time from their duties
to care for the smallest of subjects.
'nuff said -

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

What Makes A Great Day

There are particular things that can make a day seem "just right"
from a good night's sleep, to an abundance of sunlight.

But there are certain factors that make Abby's day first-rate,
like starting her morning with a pancake on her plate.

The syrup must sweeten her mood, so Mom can do her hair,
and give her energy to wait for the bus, by dancing without a care.

Miss Cathy's sweet smile also brightens the morn
and starts a fun ride to school with a happy honk of the bus's horn.

At school cooperation is key
for Abby to complete her work, like a busy little bee.

Then a fun time at recess with friends and swings
is followed by school lunch, and all the yumminess that brings.

Before long the school day is done,
and it's time to board the big yellow bus, for more transportation fun.

A good bus report for Mom will include
keeping shoes and socks on, and no occurrences of being rude.

The super day continues when when dinner is "eaten all up"
and dessert is a carmel ice cream that fills up a cup.

Then it's time with Dad, for some cuddles and fun
While Mom takes off, 'cause she's got errands to run.

Then she's home just in time to take Abby to bed,
where instead of sleep, they giggle and laugh instead.

But soon Mom has warn out her welcome and so,
It's Dad's turn to help, so off to dreamland she can go.

And thus ends a day that was splendid indeed
complete with all the elements that a great day would need.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Abby See, Abby Do

Abby has always been wonderful at imitating those around her, both what they say and what they do. I've often wondered if this would get us into trouble one day, but so far so good. She hasn't come out with anything too embarrassing yet while we were in public, and if she did, typically we are the only ones that can really understand what she's talking about, so when we translate we "bend" the truth a bit.

This ability to mimic has helped to make Abby a fabulous actress. Rarely have I heard a child so convincingly yell, "I love KUNG FU!" as she holds onto the chair on which she is sitting. I can completely envision her flying through the air (just like that nutty panda), as she provides her own sound effects and thrashes around, only to fall dramatically to the floor and exhibit surprised wonder as she is chosen the next Dragon Warrior. She also does a pretty mean rendition of the "Princess Fiona Song", you know the one -  the one Fiona sings to the bird that eventually blows up because of her warbling? Abby even provides the "poof" sound at the point at which that poor animal meets its demise. I won't bore you with all of the the movie bits Abby can do, but I will tell you that sometimes it's hard to even watch a movie when Abby is around - because it is so much more entertaining to watch her.

As charming as all of this may sound though, there are times when this can get a bit exasperating. Like when she has to have her green skirt on while watching Tinker Bell, or when she needs her dancing shoes when listening to music, or when she must wear her superhero mask when "The Incredibles" is on. Woe be unto Mom if I can't find what she needs, when she needs it. Like any diva, it is not pretty when her specifications aren't met exactly. Clearly the kid is all about authenticity in her acting.

What makes her such an excellent thespian, though, is not that she can so convincingly play the parts and use the props that are "given" to her, but that she truly empathizes with the characters. I remember one time, while watching "Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat" when I looked up to see she had such a sad look on her face. I asked her if she was okay, to which she responded, "So sad, Mama." Before I had a chance to look her over for wounds, she pointed to the screen and I realized that the movie was at the point where Joseph's brothers sell him into slavery - yes, a very sad occurrence indeed. Tonight, as she was eating her dinner and watching "Pooh's Heffalump Movie" I was surprised to have her come into the kitchen, where I was finishing up a few things, with her head hanging and telling me that she wanted to cuddle. I wondered at this strange timing, until I heard what was happening in her movie and realized that Roo was enjoying some cuddles with Kanga after a harrowing escape from a pit. Abby needed her Mama, just like Roo needed his. After a few moments with Mom, Abby was able to shake it off and declare that she was "happy now."

I have to say that we love seeing her do all of this, it is so charmingly funny, but we have to be careful, because lately she has taken to being offended or embarrassed if we laugh a little too much at her antics - this is serious business to her after all. So we hide our smiles behind our hands and we cheer and clap when she is finished, as is expected of a good audience. Therefore, don't be surprised if one day you see Abby the actress on the big (or little) screen, with all this training she's bound to make a name for herself!

Abby as Snow White - the apple is all part of
the realism.

Abby as Tinker Bell - her hair even needed to be up for this one.

Abby avoiding her paparazzi.

If this doesn't scream, "Super Star!" I don't
know what does!

Monday, May 28, 2012

A Day to Play

Before I begin I would like to thank all of those who have ever served, or who are currently serving in the military. I will never comprehend the full cost of my freedom, and the sacrifices they, along with their families, have made so that I can enjoy a day like I did today. So, thank you, and I hope you know that you are appreciated more than just this one day of the year.

Sometimes it pays for your mom to be a teacher - especially if she is a teacher at a small school. I knew yesterday that Abby was getting a little stir-crazy, that happens on a typical weekend, but I suspected that with the extended weekend it would be worse. So, yesterday I promised her that today we would go to a park to play. Now, I had a suspicion that the parks around us would be packed on Memorial Day, and I didn't really feel like chasing Abby out of other people's picnics, so I decided that I would take her out to the school where I teach. There we would have that nice big playground to ourselves. Before she fell asleep she made sure to review the morning's schedule: wake up, eat breakfast, go play. I agreed, hoping that we wouldn't be there at seven in the morning.

We woke up this morning and I somehow was able to con Jason in to letting me go back to bed for a few hours, after all, it was 6 a.m. and a girl should get one sleep-in day during a weekend, right? By the time I got up, Abby'd had breakfast and was ready to go. I put her off for a bit, but around 9:30 we were ready. I thought it might be a good idea to bring Bruiser with us, because heaven knows he needed to get out of the house and blow off some steam too. Abby asked about bringing Nan, but I was able to convince her that Nan would not have fun.

I double checked that we had sunscreen and other necessities and we were off - once I got everyone where they should be, that is. Bruiser was so excited (and I think afraid we were going to go without him) that when I opened the passenger door to put our stuff in the car, he took his opportunity and jumped in. As soon as I stared yelling, he realized his mistake, but he wasn't coming out the way he came in. The big lug moved from the front of the car to the back of the car - over the front seats. I finally got him in the back, and once Abby and I were buckled in, we were off.

When we got to school, and I opened the car doors, those two left me in the dust. Abby ran right to the swings, and Bruiser took off after the family of bunnies who were enjoying a sunny day on the playground. We had a great time, and I discovered that not only had Abby grown and developed mentally over this school year, but she also had physically. All those afternoons at recess have made her wonderfully strong and agile. At first I nervously hovered as she climbed up the rungs and rails that were spread throughout the play structure, but once I actually watched her, I realized that she knew exactly what she was doing - and that she knew her limits. As soon as she got to a height that she didn't feel comfortable with, she slowly lowered herself back to the wood-chips. She had even picked up the trick of pumping her legs as she went back and forth on the swings, and she had stopping down to an art. The kid knew her way around a playground, and it was great to see.

This just makes me laugh!
She looks miserable.
Before long, and actually much sooner than I thought, she wanted to go sit down in the cool shade. She started fanning herself and told me it was "too hot". Here's were another bonus of being at "my" school came in - I had keys to the building. All three of us trotted over to the front doors and went in to find something that would cool us off. I knew exactly where to go for some cups and cold water, but then I remembered the super secret stash of popsicles. I got poor Bruiser some water and Abby a yummy popsicle, and then we headed back out to play.

We played for a bit longer, but it just was too hot and humid. I looked over at her, sitting on the bench, and gleefully realized the kid was whipped! On the way home I stopped to get Abby an ice cream cone. The whole way there she tried to tell me that Bruiser needed one too, but Mom wasn't buying it - poor Bruiser. I tell you, I was never so grateful for air conditioning as when that blast of cool air hit me the moment I opened our front door.

The rest of the afternoon was spent playing, resting, and relaxing inside. Today was one of those days that makes me long for summer even more than I had been, but with two weeks left of school it is right around the corner. I look forward to more days like today, when we can get out and have some fun. The play and the sunshine is good for both of us - that, and it's the perfect excuse for an ice cream cone.

This must be her climbing face - so fierce!

And she's off!

Yeah for twirly slides!

I caught her in a moment of reflection.
Abby wanted me to get a picture of Bruiser.
The poor guy was so hot!


"Can we go now?"

I scream. You scream. Abby screams for

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Marvelous Abby

Every now and again I will have these surreal moments when I look at Abby and just marvel. I reflect on the fact that seven short years ago this little girl, who is now such the center of my life, wasn't even here. Sometimes that is hard to get my mind around. Yesterday, after I dropped her off for her play-date with "real" Rachel and Jane, I drove back home and found Jason on the couch watching an actual grown-up movie on the T.V. I had begun to wonder if that T.V. could play anything other than PBS or Nickelodeon  during daylight hours. We'd thought about going out to eat or to a movie while Abby was at her friends' house, but we finally looked at each other and decided that what we really wanted to do was rest at home - so that's what we did.

It was as I sat down for a few uninterrupted moments with my sewing machine that I heard Jason ask from the other room, "What did we do for all those years?" I knew exactly what he was talking about. We were married for six years before we had Abby, and you know - I have no idea what I did with my time. At that point I hadn't started knitting, I certainly didn't sew, I wasn't going to grad school, and I didn't spend any spare time writing....What did I do? The craziest thing is not that I'm sure I had a ton of time to do whatever I wanted, the craziest thing is that I really can't remember what we did with our days. I do remember a class picnic, oh around about my fourth year of teaching, when I was sitting with a bunch of parents who were talking about how quickly time goes, and how they didn't remember what life was like before their kids. I remember thinking: Really?!? You honestly don't remember!? Come on. It seems they were spot on. It's as if the pre-Abby Elizabeth was a totally different person (and in a way she was), who I met briefly and therefore vaguely remember.

Maybe it was those few hours I spent in an Abby-less house yesterday that had me marveling at her today. There were many moments to do that, like when Jason went grocery shopping and we stayed home laughing and cuddling on the couch. She told me she wanted to hear a joke, so I obliged. "How do you make a tissue dance?" I asked, to which Abby said, "Sloppy joes!" and then laughed hysterically. With a punch-line like that, I couldn't help but join in. This reminded me about how much laughter she has brought into this house.

Later, as we were eating lunch, she continued to get out of her seat so she could give Jason hugs and kisses, and tell him, "I love you too, Dada!" At one point I called her over to me and whispered to her that she should hit Dada's kiss button. A wonderful secret smile bloomed on her face as she whispered, "Oh, okay, Mama." She proceeded to go and get kisses from Dada. This had me reflecting on how Abby has multiplied the amount of affection and love in our lives.

Finally, as we were going to bed, and after about a half dozen, "I love you Mama"'s, Abby ran a soft hand across my cheek and told me I had a "cute face". I smiled and said thank you, thinking about how much she has encouraged and lifted me up in her short lifetime.

Yes, there was much to marvel at today where Abby was concerned, and I am so glad that I took the time to do so.

Abby wanted me to take a picture of her in her new dress.
I have no idea why she chose her bedroom door as the
background, but with her standing so sweetly I wasn't
going to argue.

This was her modeling earlier - what a funny bunny!

Changing Minds

You may, or may not, have noticed that I don't do a whole lot of writing about Down syndrome. There are reasons for that, some that are deliberate, and others that are not, but before I get into those reasons it may help if I back up. We did not find out about Abby's diagnosis of Down syndrome until after she was born, and at that point we were more concerned with her survival, we would deal with anything else later.

Later came, and we did struggle with her diagnosis, but it wasn't long before our mindsets changed from "Why us?" to "We can do this." In very "us" fashion we did research. We read books, we consulted with "experts", and we even talked to a few parents who had been where we were. Despite all of this, I really didn't have a clear idea of what having a child with Down syndrome looked like, mainly because I didn't know any children with Down syndrome. I remember one parent telling me how blessed we were, and yes, I felt that because every child is a blessing, but the future was so very uncertain and I couldn't appreciate her encouragement. Soon though, life took over and as time went on I saw less and less of the Down syndrome, and more and more of Abby.

As Abby grew my focus shifted. Sure we had her in therapy, had IEP's, went to plenty of doctor's appointments, and knew that she was "delayed", but I realized that Abby had such a powerful personality that all of the other "stuff" came second - she was first a child. I heard a person once describe her as a Down's kid. It took all I could to not pounce all over that. Do people refer to other children with challenges by their "label"? I've never heard someone say, "Yes, there's Jimmy, he's a dyslexic kid," or "Their daughter's name is Sally, she's a cancer kid."This is when it really became clear to me that Abby would not be defined by her challenges. She is a child first - a child who happens to have Down syndrome - that's it. This is the chief reason I don't talk about her Down syndrome much. It isn't because I'm in denial, or that I don't accept that part of her. The simple truth is that I don't think about it much. It isn't something that we talk about daily, or that we focus on. We do what we need to do to make Abby successful, just as any parent will do what they need to do to make their child successful.

There are a several reasons why I started this blog in the first place. The first is simply because so many people would comment about how much they enjoyed the Abby stories and the Abby pictures I would post on Facebook. She's hilarious, why wouldn't they love them? I found myself laughing most of the time at the stuff she would come up with, and I just wanted to share my funny kid. I'm proud of her, and am blessed that people seem to like it when I brag about her. The second reason has a more serious element. I remember back after we first had Abby that I didn't know what it was like to have a child with Down syndrome. Because I didn't have a face to put with Down syndrome it was frightening. My hope, when I share stories and pictures of Abby, is that minds would be changed - that people would begin to realize that those who seem different, or who have challenges, are wonderful people first.

Over the years I've had a few friends contact me when people they know have a child with Down syndrome. I have been so blessed to meet some wonderful people that way. I will gladly answer any questions they might have about Abby and our experiences with her, but the first thing I usually do is "friend" them on Facebook, because that gives them the opportunity to "meet" Abby for themselves. I've always felt that the best advocate for people with Down syndrome is Abby herself, doing what she does best - being her. So, that's what I let her do, and you know what? I believe that's what's happening. She is changing minds - I couldn't ask for more than that.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Waiting For the Bus

Due to the fact that I need to be at school by 7:30 each morning, and Abby's bus picks her up about twenty minutes after that, Jason has been the one who is responsible for getting her on the bus throughout the year. On the days when he needs to make a quick dash to school the two of them wait in his car, with Abby ensconced in the back like a princess, listening to songs like Quando, Quando, Quando by Michael Bublé and Circle Dance by Bonnie Raitt, while she watches herself dance in the pull-down mirror. On other days, Abby gets to dawdle while Dada keeps an eagle eye out for the bus. Then, as the bus pulls up, a mad dash ensues - usually ending with a grab-and-go by Jason as he carries her to her ride.

There have been days when Jason will have early morning meetings which means I need to stay home for a few more minutes and try my hand at getting her on the big yellow beast. Envisioning myself opening every door of the car trying to get her out as the bus waits for us, has kept me from going that route while we wait. Usually, we get ready early and then head out to dance in the driveway. For a while our favorite was The Hokie Pokie, but that has been overshadowed lately, by a song that was around far before either of us was - The Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy, or as Abby calls it, "The Buzzy Bee Song."

Today, in honor of the holiday weekend, I didn't have school...but Abby did - a rare happening indeed. She only had a half day, but since I was home, I was once again in charge when it came to waiting for the bus. She was a gem and we were ready in plenty of time, but she didn't want to head outside to wait, so I grabbed my phone and told her she could bring her big mirror to watch herself dance. With this new idea she couldn't get out there fast enough. She requested the "buzzy bee song", and danced her heart out, giving those who drove by our house a fun sight to start their day.

Before long the bus pulled up, but Abby didn't want to stop dancing, or let go of her mirror. When I told her we needed to go, she let out a loud, "NO!" and grabbed her mirror and made a run for it - in the opposite direction of the bus. Luckily she had to come to a stop when she got to the garage door, but I had to figure out a way to get her to the bus - that was still waiting. I can only imagine what the kids on the bus were thinking as they watched Abby and her goofy mom dance up the driveway, while Abby kept a tight grip on that mirror. (At this point I should let you know that this mirror is not of the glass variety. It is a flexible acrylic and came with one of the developmental toys we got her when she was a baby, and even though she has long outgrown that tent/mat it came on, she has not outgrown the mirror - I suspect she never will.)

We reached the bus and as I tried to wrestle the mirror from her, she dropped to the ground. I got her up, and got the mirror away from her, with the help of Miss Cathy, the bus driver. We both convinced her to that it would be fun to dance to her seat, and I watched the two of them shuffle off to the back of the bus. After she was buckled in I waved her off and I headed back into the house (with the mirror) and gleefully climbed back into bed (without the mirror).

For me it was a morning of napping and soon Abby was home. She was in a great mood and even let me get some sewing done. Before long, Jason was home and dinner was done. After snuggling with Dada for a bit, she wanted Mom. I gladly climbed into bed with her only to have her tell me, "Okay Mom, let's do this," referring to getting her to sleep. With a laugh, we snuggled in and lickety- split she was out. A great start to a long weekend, if I do say so myself.

Abby trying out her big finish - Jazz Hands!

My afternoon sewing project, as modeled by Abby.
She was way too cute!

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Field Trip

As a teacher I have to admit that field trips completely stress me out. I think it is the fact that there are so many things to think about, and being I'm out of my familiar environment puts me on edge. I also want to make sure that my students have a fun time, but behave as well, and sometimes those two don't always seem to go together. I do have to say that all my worry usually is for naught. It is rare that I take my students somewhere and someone doesn't tell me how nice they are. Despite history, I still get wound up when it comes to field trips.

As a parent, you could say that my field trip anxiety just about triples. So, when we got a note from Abby's teacher last week telling us her class was going to the YMCA for rock climbing and swimming, I was immediately apprehensive. As soon as I showed that to Jason his words were, "No way," and I agreed. We couldn't go with her, and as much as we love and trust her teachers, we understand that Abby isn't their only student, we just didn't feel comfortable with it, she needed too much support for this adventure. The thing is, it made me so sad that we were not going to let her go, because I know how much she loves to be in the water. I knew she would have fun if the conditions were right, but I also knew that there were so many ways things could go wrong. Abby loves swimming, but when she is in the pool she clings to Jason, not ready to let go of him, she really needs a pool buddy when she goes swimming.

Bless Abby's teacher for hanging in there with me. I think we wrote about ten emails back and forth with me asking questions and trying to wrap my head around how the day would work, and how we might make it possible for her to go. I was still waffling yesterday when I sent a final message to her teacher letting her know that we were still undecided. I still couldn't see how this would work. That's when Abby's wonderful teacher threw out a perfect idea. She so generously offered to talk to her daughter, who just recently graduated from college and was home for the summer, and ask her if she would be Abby's one-on-one pool buddy. This was the perfect solution! I was so excited when I heard that she'd agreed to go on the field trip. I felt completely comfortable having her go, and I knew she would have a wonderful time. After school I ran to the store to pick Abby up a new suit and some swimmies. When she got home from school I told her that she would get to go swimming tomorrow with "Miss Chelsae" and she was over the moon about it. She immediately put on her suit and walked to the door, ready to go. It took some time to convince her that she would get to go tomorrow, not that afternoon, but she finally accepted it.

This morning she woke up and started talking about swimming with Miss Chelsae and she was an absolute gem all morning. So with her bag filled with swimming stuff, she got on the bus and headed off on an adventure. All day I kept my phone right next to me, anxious that I might get a call that things had gone wrong, but as each hour passed my spirits lifted. I so wish I could have been there to see her. Finally, I left school as soon as I could, and even though I didn't get a message to Abby's teacher that I wanted to pick her up, I zipped over to Abby's school. Unfortunately I missed her. The bus had already come and she'd left, but I did get a chance to talk to Abby's teachers. They said she had a blast! She'd done so well and even had enjoyed a bit of swimming on her own. Oh, I can't tell you how excited I was for her. I thanked them all, and left so I could get home in time to meet the bus.

She did have a wonderful time, and after she'd eaten dinner she was ready to head up for a bath, to do "more swimming". There was a moment of stubbornness when she wanted to put her bathing suit on before she got in the tub, but once she found the colored paint/soap she was all good to get in. It looks like we'll be looking into swimming lessons this summer - for our little mermaid.

Today was a perfect way to head into a nice long weekend.

Enjoying some pretzels after a fun day!

Making her "cute" face.

This afternoon Abby ran out to explore and
found the Peonies. I watched as she leaned in
to smell the flower and then she started pulling.
Before I could get to her, down she went. Then,
up she came with the whole plant - roots and all!

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Abby's Not So Invisible Friends

I may have used this picture of the girls before, but it is my
favorite! In the fall we all went to the apple orchard - and
got free cheesecake (along with donuts and cider).
Of all the friends that Abby has made near her own age, both at school and at church, there are two that she talks about more than any other - Rachel and Jane. Honestly though, it isn't just Rachel and Jane that have a hold on her heart, Abby also loves their parents. When we want to get her moving and we're heading somewhere where we know they will be, all we have to do is tell Abby that we are going to see them, and boom! she suddenly becomes a complacent child. We've had several play-dates with them, both at their house and at our house, and I love watching (and listening) to them play. Not only are Rachel and Jane wonderfully sweet to Abby, which I appreciate so much, but they treat her like any other kid. This may sound weird, but I even enjoy them fighting (which they've done very little of) - because that's what kids do when they spend a lot of time together. They always get over it and move on, and everything ends on a happy note.

This weekend we got to see them both again, and Abby got to play with them at the party we went to on Sunday. It was Rachel and Jane's car that she so boldly climbed into, and their parents who so generously drove her home - after making a pit-stop for ice cream. As they drove away from the house on Sunday afternoon both girls were yelling their good-byes out the window to Abby - it warmed my heart. Since then Abby has not stopped talking about the two of them. I kid you not, for the last three days the first words out of her mouth are, "Mama, go see Rachel and Jane." The kid has a memory like an elephant because I told her on Monday that I would talk to their mom and set up a time when they could get together, and since then she has been asking me about it. I was able to talk to their mom this afternoon and we finally set a time - Abby will be visiting with them on Saturday - whew!

I told her this great news this afternoon when she got home from school. She was terribly excited. So excited it seems that she couldn't wait until Saturday, because before I knew it she was talking away to "Pretend Rachel" and "Pretend Jane". She has done this before - had pretend versions of her friends over - but tonight ran a bit longer than usual. She gave them orders, she included them in her conversations and games, and they even went with us to pick up a special treat for dinner. Actually, the two of them were pretty helpful when we came home. Instead of coming in the house after me, Abby wanted to run around outside, but we had dinner waiting, so I needed to get her in. After a few, "No!"s that were punctuated by crossing her arms across her chest (so I knew she meant business), I had an inspired idea. I looked over to our front door and said, "Abby, look! Rachel and Jane are coming in to eat, why don't you too?" Her whole demeanor suddenly changed and she said, "Oh, okay, Mom," as she grabbed my hand and headed to the door. Even I was surprised this had worked - but I quickly saw it's potential and used it to my advantage.  The "girls" sat down and ate dinner together and it was at that point that "Pretend Rachel and Jane" must have left, because we didn't hear from (or about) them the rest of the night.

I am so thankful for Abby's friendship with them, as well as the love that she gets from their parents. I try to tell them often how much of a bright spot they are for Abby - and me as well. Good friends are truly more precious than gold. Now that Abby has gotten her play date, maybe it is my turn to start nagging Jason about what we are going to do with our free time. I hear there are some good movies out.....

In the last week or so we've had a new addition to our household - homework, or should I say, Abby homework. Tonight we sat down to read another of her "The" books and I couldn't resist recording her. She did a great job! This does my heart good, I just had to share!

Mom was in charge of "Bus Duty" this morning
because Dad had an early meeting. This was
Abby 10 minutes before the bus was set to arrive.
I was beginning to worry at this point.

But she pulled through and made it out in
plenty of time for pictures....

and some dancing....

And some more dancing. This is her "Charleston"
move, where she's knocking her knees together
and crossing her hands. I have no idea where she
picked this up - but it is amazing. She was dancing
to "Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy" - I wish you could
have seen all of her dance moves!

Abby has a big field trip tomorrow - to the Y for
some swimming! Since I figured her suit from
last year might be a bit small, I ran out after school
to get her this new one. As you can imagine, once it was
on it didn't come off until bath time, and even then
it was a bit dicy. Don't you love the "cheerleader pose"?

Tuesday, May 22, 2012


Today, since I am very tired and not sure how coherent my thoughts will turn out, I'm going to present you with a list of introspective questions that are inspired by Abby.

  1. At what point did I stop fighting sleep (Abby), and begin seeing it as a "treat" for good behavior?
  2. Why can't moms and daughters have a more equal distribution of energy? (Under the current system things seems rather weighted in the daughter's favor.)
  3. At what point did I stop thinking that wearing a striped shirt and a flowered skirt, at the same time, is the hight of fashion?
  4. When did my imagination stop working, and cause me to see a tower of Legos as a tower of Legos, instead of a birthday cake with a candle on the top like Abby did?
  5. When did I stop pretending to be a dog in my spare time?
  6. When did I lose the creative power that allowed me to make snow angels on a seventy-five degree day in the middle of the living room floor?
  7. When did I stop being fascinated by watching a dog eat his dinner?
  8. When did picking up my toys stop being something that could reduce me to tears?
  9. When did "No" stop being my most hated word?
  10. When did a sip of water stop being the cure all for everything from a dark scary room to a sore toe?
Some days I would love to trade places with Abby, because as you can see from the above questions, she has way more fun! Today would have been one of those days!

Even though this wasn't taken today, I thought it was
appropriate, since it displays her wonderful sense
of style. This was what she wore on a recent shopping trip.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Passing Time

Tonight I thought I would run some numbers for you. Bear with me, I have a point.
  • As of today Abby has 1,013 more bedtimes until she hits double digits (10 years old).
  • As of today Abby has had 2,616 bedtimes in her lifetime.
  • As of today Abby has 300 weekends until she is a teenager.
  • As of today Abby has had 376 weekends in her lifetime.
  • As of today Abby has 213 months until she is the age I was when I graduated high school.
  • As of today Abby has had 86 months in her lifetime.
  • As of today Abby has 15 years until she's the age I was when Jason and I met.
  • As of today Abby has had 7 years in her lifetime.
Tonight I had a very poignant reminder of how quickly time passes. It was our last band and choir concert of the year. Many of you know that I am a teacher, and that I teach a classroom filled with kids in grades 4-6, but I also team teach choir. I love this. It combines two things I love - kids and music. It also lets me stay in contact with students that I've had over the years. I get to watch these children grow and mature over a four year period. I get to see them blossom into wonderful young men and women. This year I have a very special group of students moving on to high school next year, and I will miss them greatly.

As I was talking with a parent after the concert, I mentioned how much I will miss his daughter and after assuring me that they would still be around, he mentioned that he couldn't believe how quickly they've arrived at this point - having two kids in high school and their last one becoming a fifth grader. This really got me thinking how so very quickly time goes. I started doing some simple math and realized that Abby isn't far off from some major "growing-up" milestones of her own. On an evening when I was already on the brink of tears, this thought got me going again. I realized, we really don't have as much time as I sometimes think of "little" Abby. She is maturing quickly, and there are times when I get so excited about all her gains and growing, but there are other times when I morn the time with her I will never get back. Tonight's mood would certainly fall into the latter category.

The concert was certainly wonderful, a great exhibition of all the work that those wonderful young people have put forth this year. It was jammed packed with music, so by the time I got out of there it was past nine o'clock - certainly well past Abby's bedtime. As I climbed into my car I called home to check on her status, and I heard her in the background. Instead of being disappointed that she was still up, I was very glad - this meant I would get spend one more bedtime with her, something I really needed tonight, especially after seeing in black and white just how quickly time has already passed and how little time we have until she is too old for those bedtime cuddles. 

Tonight Dad had the great idea to add a candle
to her dish of ice cream. Here Abby takes a huge
breath to blow out her candle.

We even sang "Happy Birthday" and afterward
Abby said, "Thanks for the singin'"
She is way too cute!

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Abby's Big Book of Questions

I want an Abby cheat sheet. Scratch that. I want an Abby book of questions. Tonight I would have read the "What to do when..." section more than once. She seems to be going through this phase (please Lord, let it be a phase) where she doesn't quite know how to express her frustration - especially when it comes to not being allowed to do what she wants to do. I understand that, I get frustrated and crabby when I don't get to do what I want to do, but Abby has started getting physical when it comes to letting her feelings out. 

She isn't destructive, but she will hit (sometimes me, but most often the floor, table, etc.), stomp, yell, and generally throw a tantrum. Once she calms down she will be sorry for her behavior, but it is in that moment that I don't know how to help her. I know it always helps for us to remain calm (which I'm sad to say I don't always do), but how do I help her understand when she is at the hight of her emotions? 

You know, it is so much easier as the teacher to look at things objectively. I know Abby doesn't always have the words to express herself, and I'm sure she doesn't always feel that she has choices and control of what is happening to her - something I know that children need. Maybe this is just her getting older, and us holding on to her "little kid" restrictions. That's where the "Abby's Book of Questions" would really come in handy. 

Today Abby really had a great day, the whole day wasn't a battle. She spent the morning at home, because I was busy at church and knew I couldn't keep an eye on her too. In the afternoon we went to a group Confirmation party out at my school. All she wanted to do was head to the playground - I don't blame her, she's a kid, and kids love playgrounds, but we didn't go there to play, so I told her she needed to come in with me to greet people. She started the "wet noodle" at the door, but I have to give her props because she recovered quickly. She still was not happy with me, so instead of going into the party, she plopped down in a chair outside the gym (with arms folded), letting me know she had no plans of budging. Okay, I could deal with that, especially since a few of my students were sitting right next to her. I knew she couldn't go far before I would hear about it. 

As I made the rounds, delivering cards, one of my lovely students came up to me and asked if she could take Abby out to the playground adjacent to the gym. Um...YES! Abby was all for that, especially since it didn't involve Mom. I was able to visit, while Abby played with some of the kids from the party. I suspected that it would be a problem once we needed to leave, but we were both enjoying ourselves, so I would save that for later. I checked on her periodically, and saw that she was having fun so I left her to it. 

Soon the time came to leave and preparing for a battle I went searching for her. Surprisingly it was easy  to get her to come with me, a simple promise for an ice cream cone was all it took. We said goodbye to some friends and that's when she decided she wanted to go home with someone else. Instead of climbing into our car, she climbed into our friends' car. Thankfully, they are wonderful people that love Abby dearly, so they offered to bring her home. 

Before long they came rolling up, and all the kids got out. Did I mention that Abby was covered in ice cream? That little charmer had finagled an ice cream cone as well as a fun ride home. We all played with Bruiser for a bit and then headed into the house. 

The day was filled with fun moments like these, but as we sat down at the dinner table, Jason asked if we push her too hard. He'd noticed her behavior when it comes to expressing her frustration too. Bedtime was not a shining moment of restraint and compliance for Abby and I, but Dad intervened and eventually I went back up and she fell softly asleep in my arms. As Abby's parent I want to make life easier for her, I want to take any pain (both physical and emotional) away from her. I want her ride to be smooth. I want her to not have to learn lessons the way I learned so many of mine - the hard way. I know we will find our way, even with out the big book of questions, but oh, that would be so helpful right now.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Catches and Smoochie Bugs

Before I begin tonight's post, I thought it might be a good idea to provide you with a sort of "glossary of terms" so you can better understand. These are taken directly from Abby's Collegiate Dictionary.

catch-es - noun \`katch-əz\ A game developed c.2012 by Abby, that involves the throwing and catching of balloons between the players. The game can be played with one or two balloons which are traditionally red or pink, but any color will do. The game's sole object is to have fun therefore, there are no points awarded, and no time limit on the game. It is over when both players tire of the game. Today we played catches and watched a movie.

kiss button - noun \`kis `bə-tən\ Found inside the nose. It is activated when the nose is pushed and causes a person to give a kiss to the person who activated it. When Dada wanted a kiss, he simply pushed Abby's kiss button.

smoochie bug - noun \`smüch-ee `bəg\ A series of small, quick kisses delivered to the neck and face. Developed by Papa c.2010. Papa swooped in and gave Abby a smoochie bug while she giggled loudly.

Today Abby was on the mend, which was good to see. Except for a few lingering aches and pains she seemed to be just fine. Along with her physical healing, her spirits were back in order as well. She enjoyed a day of playing - making Play-Doh pizzas, drawing colorful pictures, and emptying every toy storage container in the sunroom. By the afternoon though, she was tired of solitary activities, so when she noticed that my lap was free of knitting she saw her opportunity and took it. She grabbed the nearest balloon and clambered up onto my lap. I couldn't resist her when she so sweetly said, "Mama, play catches with me." This game involved one balloon and close quarters as Abby positioned herself on the arm of my chair. I couldn't resist interrupting the game to periodically push Abby's kiss button, after all, she gives the best smoochie bugs. As we batted that pink balloon back and forth we both found ourselves laughing - especially when Bruiser wanted a piece of the action. Around about the fourth time Bruiser went after the balloon, Abby decided it was time to quit, so she grabbed it and high-tailed it into the other room, where she hid it in some folded laundry - so Bruiser wouldn't find it.

She was having too much fun with Mom, so playtime wasn't over. On her way back into the room she spotted her Play-Doh scissors and that sparked an idea. Since Mom had given her a haircut this morning, it was now her turn. She pushed me forward in my chair and set about "doing" my hair. Finally, when my scalp began to protest, I grabbed her and pulled her forward. That's when I pulled out my phone and started snapping away. Abby loves it when she can see for herself the pictures that are taken (surprise, surprise) and so she started really mugging for the camera. I did end up getting some great pictures - despite her goofing around. 

She settled down for a bit when she got a popsicle, but she wasn't willing to give up my lap. She continued to cuddle and laugh with me in between bites, even going so far as to mimic how I was resting my chin on my hand, giggling as she did so. The rest of the evening was filled with singing and dancing, and then it was off to bed. 

I love the fact that Abby and I can enjoy each other and goof around together. She is so much fun and I think we both needed that, after the past couple of days. Sometimes a little silliness is just what the doctor ordered. 

Abby's shorter locks (and rockin' guitar!)

Why, hello, Hollywood!


This is Mom and Abby having a little fun at Dada's expense.
Good thing he's pretty tough!

Friday, May 18, 2012

Be Careful What You Ask For

If you read last night's post you saw that I was excited because the weekend was near and I was going to be able to spend some time with my little darling. I guess today I learned to be careful what you ask for. Our wake-up call came at 5 a.m. this morning when Abby sat up in bed and got sick everywhere. I couldn't believe it - she'd just got to the point where she was feeling well, and not having any problems - now it was starting all over again?

I suppose the good thing is that we all knew the drill. I got Abby on the toilet, stripped the bed, put the sheets in the wash, and put clean ones on. Jason got dressed and headed out to the store to stock up on more supplies. While he was gone I hosed Abby down and then got her in the tub to soak. As she sat there, I cleaned the bathroom. While I scrubbed down the toilet I heard Abby say, "Thank you, Mama." When I asked her for what, she replied, "for cleaning my toilet." What a sweetheart! Here she is, sick as can be and she's thanking me for cleaning up after her - I love that kid.

Soon, she told me she had to go potty again and I put her on that clean toilet and covered her with a blanket. This time I was the one thanking her - for letting me know she had to go and not having an accident in the tub. Before I knew it she was letting out a yawn (a slightly fake yawn) and telling me she was tired. So we headed back to the clean bed and laid down to watch some T.V. While she was busy with that, I got my sub notes together and emailed them in.

Once I sent them off, I heard Jason come home loaded up with goodies. He'd even stopped to pick me up a coffee - he's such a smart man. And so, we began our day with Abby on the couch with some Gatorade and pretzels and me already exhausted.

She was a good girl throughout the day, but as she felt better she wanted to do more of her "normal" stuff, but going outside to play and taking a ride to get an ice cream cone were out of the question. I was able to put her off with, a lot of "maybe tomorrow's", but I can guarantee that tomorrow does not hold bacon, pizza, and ice cream for little Miss Abby. We will be taking it easy on her tummy. We only have 11 and a half more days of school to get through and I want both of us at every one of those.

I think it took her about four minutes to fall asleep tonight, and as I heard myself let out a loud wheeze I realized that I was right there with her - out like a light, until I woke myself up. Once I found the energy to move, I slowly snuck out of her room and looked back at her before I shut the door. The poor thing has just been through the wringer in the last few weeks and I really pray that she can get some rest this weekend and recover - in fact, that's what we all need - rest, relaxation, and a whole bottle of Lysol.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Good Company

I swear, every time I turned around today I had to remind myself it wasn't Friday. I certainly had the tiredness of a Friday, but it was more than that. The kids at school had that "weekend-here-we-come" attitude and everything just seemed slower today - a bit more relaxed. Even when I got home I couldn't shake that "Friday feeling", so when I was saying thanks to Abby's bus driver, I nearly said, "Have a good weekend!" The thing is, I was exhausted, and I had so much waiting for me to get done, I just wanted to crawl into bed and go to sleep. Luckily though, I have Abby.

I usually get a burst of energy when she gets home. Her smile and happiness at seeing me is like a shot of espresso right to my soul, and today was no different, except maybe I needed it so much more. We got into the house and she plopped down at the table, requesting something to eat. The problem was that I'd been cutting fabric for some skirts I'm making for some of my choir students, and I needed every inch of that table. As I thought about ways I was going to distract her until I was finished cutting she started chatting - asking what I was doing, who I was doing it for, basically talking virtually nonstop about what was happening on that table. I answered her questions and laughed with her as she answered mine. Before I knew it, I was finished and had her dinner in front of her. As she ate and I began sewing, we continued to talk and I started to realize that even though I was still tired - I was no longer weary. Abby's wonderful attitude and good company had wiped that away.

Soon Jason got home (with some surprises for Abby - a sparkly cape and some drawing paper and pencils - just because), and as he wrestled with the lawn, I tackled the dishes, and Abby...well she danced in her new pink cape, drew with her bright florescent pencils, and took her booster seat for a walk around the living room (don't ask). As I worked and listened to her, I couldn't help but reflect on those moments earlier when she sat at the table and so effortlessly lifted my heavy spirits. There's a part of me that so wants to press pause and keep Abby where she is, but then there are other times, like tonight, when I see glimpses of the beautiful young lady she is becoming, and I can't wait to have more moments when I am less the mother and more the friend. For now I am thankful for the little glimpses I'm getting, and the fact that tomorrow actually is Friday, because that means I get to spend more time in Abby's good company.

Abby the Multi-Tasker - eating Cheerios, while watching Winnie the
 and drawing with her new pencils. Like father like daughter.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

So Proud

Today I was very proud of Abby. I had a meeting after school with some of the staff at her school and since there's no other place for her to go, it means Abby had a meeting too. Early in the year I was asked by her teacher and principal if I would be interested in being the parent representative on their school improvement team. I jumped at the chance to get more involved there, and to learn more about where Abby spends her days. We've met two or three times and each time we meet in Abby's classroom so that she can play while we sit in tiny chairs around a kidney shaped table. In the past I've come armed with the iPad and other distraction tools, one time I even stopped off to get a shake in the hopes that would keep her busy. Each time she lost interest so quickly that most of the meeting I was trying to keep her in the room or to stop her from getting every toy in the room out.

Today I didn't have a chance to load up on distraction tools, so I was not sure how things would go. As usual Abby came barreling at me as I walked toward her classroom and about knocked me over in her joy to see me. While we waited for the meeting to start we sat at her desk and went through her papers. It was so much fun to sit in her space and talk through her day. We read her "The" book and drew a few more pictures. She showed me her pencil box and her crayons. Soon, though she tired of that and went to play with the doll house.

As the meeting begun she became Teacher/Abby and plopped herself down in the "teacher" chair by the carpet. She told the class to sit "criss-cross applesauce with hands in your lap" and then started going through the days of the week and other morning circle-time activities. Every now and again she would encourage her "class" by saying things like, "Good job, Paul!" and "That's right, Lilia." This time it seemed I would have a hard time concentrating on the meeting as well, but not because she was being bad - no she was being just too charming.

Throughout the meeting she made us all cupcakes in the play kitchen, treated us to her beautiful dance moves (wearing lovely sparkly dresses from the dress-up box), and even tested some of our juggling skills. I was so proud of the fact that not only did she do a great job of playing by herself, but knew she needed to check with me when she wanted to do certain things, like when she picked up a marker and wanted to draw with it. All I had to do was shake my head, and with a sigh (and I swear there was a near eye-roll) she put the marker back where she got it. I nearly jumped up and gave her a huge hug at that point.

Abby was such a gem for so long that I didn't mind the few moments, when it was time to go, that she exerted her stubborn will - especially considering she'd been there for a good nine hours. So, with the promise of pizza we headed out, me walking forward and Abby walking backward. Yep, Abby walked backwards the whole way to the car - and didn't need Mom to hold her hand or keep her on track, she did that herself, in her own way.

Thinking about all of this makes me realize how much she has grown and matured over the year. I can't even begin to express how happy that makes me - how proud I am of how hard she has worked, and of who she is becoming.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Listening In

I think I've mentioned before how much I enjoy seeing Abby and Jason together, but I discovered tonight that it is just as fun hearing them together. Let me explain. With my new found freedom (no more classed for three weeks) I'm going "sew" crazy. For Mother's Day I got this darling book, Girl's World: Twenty-One Sewing Projects to Make for Little Girls, and I couldn't wait to dive in! So as Abby was enjoying one of her favorite programs with Jason, I had my head bowed over my machine and was sewing away.

Soon those two came trotting down the stairs, with Abby in the lead, talking about baking. I was about to stop Abby's mad dash into the kitchen, until Jason showed up with that little smile on his face that told me they were up to something. Sure enough they pulled out bowls and spoons and got to work. As I sewed I was treated to the sound of them work together. Jason was giving Abby directions like, "Now, your job is to mash these to bits and pieces," and Abby would respond, "Oh. Okay, Dada. Bits and pieces."

Even though some of their discussions involved teasing me, it was still fun to listen to them working together as they whipped up some cinnamon bread, with a "surprise" ingredient - bananas. There was one dicy moment when Jason left the ladle in the mixing bowl, while Abby wanted to keep mixing, but a quick save by Mom was all that was needed. Soon they were waving good-bye to the pan of batter and putting it in the oven.

They then went their separate ways, Abby to eat a popsicle, and Jason to relax and not watch something animated. I continued sewing and smiling as I thought about how great those two are together. They just have fun. It is clear that they enjoy being around each other and the laughing (from both of them) that usually results is wonderful to hear.

I was so engrossed with my sewing and thinking that soon enough Jason came to tell me that it was ten minutes to nine, oops! After a quick "try-on" we went off to bed. I was not surprised that as Abby and I settled in, she suddenly sat up and said, "Don't wanna, Mama. Want Dada!" I tried not to let my feelings be hurt that she didn't want me for her night-time cuddles, but I still felt a little sad as I left the room and Jason took my place. I didn't hear a peep out of the two of them, and I swear by the time I'd gotten a piece of that yummy bread and plopped myself down on the couch to write my post I heard Jason coming downstairs, telling me that Abby had already fallen asleep.

I'm thrilled that the two of them had such a good night. It is so important that they get to spend time together and enjoy each other's company. I suspect on days like today, Jason's "Abby Time" lifts his spirits after a long day at work, and for Abby time with, "My Dada" is just as precious.

Here's the dress. It's a little
big, but she'll grow into it - it
will be perfect for next summer!

Monday, May 14, 2012

20 Things I Love About Abby

I feel like I've been a bit hard on Abby of late in my posts. So, tonight I'm going to tell you 20 things about her that I love. These are in no particular order - just in how I've thought of them.

20 Things I Love About Abby

  1. her sweet little face when she's sleeping
  2. the tiny freckle on the inside of her ankle
  3. the way she wraps her arms around my neck and puts her face into my neck when she's upset
  4. how she "shakes her booty" and dances on her tiptoes when she hears music
  5. how she loves to wear dresses and skirts - the frillier the better
  6. when she says "All better now" because she is in my arms after being scared
  7. the way her eyes smile, before it reaches her mouth
  8. her giggle
  9. when she yells, "Mama!" and runs to me after school
  10. the smell of her hair
  11. how she prays for her teachers and classmates by name
  12. how she loves to sing "Happy Birthday!"
  13. the way she squints her eyes "kind of" closed when she's got a surprise coming
  14. how well she can play pretend
  15. how she puts her hands on my face and whispers, "Love you too, Mama"
  16. the way she puts her hand on her hip when she's talking on the phone
  17. how she makes "yummy" sounds when she's eating
  18. the fact that she always says, "'scuse me" when she burps
  19. the fact that no matter how her shoes are laid out she will almost certainly get them on the wrong feet
  20. how she still signs "I love you" when she is waving out the window
I'm sure I could go on and on about all the things I love about Abby - there are so many you know, but these are the ones that came to this mother's heart first. 

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Mother's Day

Every year I look forward to Mother's Day, it's like a bonus "birthday day", and every Mother's Day I have high expectations. This is my day after all, I work hard the other 364 days of the year, I should be able to have one day when I don't have to involve myself in all the "yucky bits" about being a mother. My husband and daughter should lavish me with gifts and praise, and I shouldn't have to lift a finger - can I have an "Amen"?

Frankly, I have yet to experience a Mother's Day quiet like the one I described above (well, maybe the first one, Abby was much more complacent when she was two and a half months old). Don't get me wrong, Jason certainly did wonderful things for me. He told me to go back to bed when Abby got up at 5:30 this morning, he then went and did the grocery shopping and picked up a coffee for me on the way home. After that he made a lovely breakfast (that unfortunately didn't sound good to my queasy tummy), and then kept Abby busy while I putzed around with my sewing machine. He next drove us all to my mom's where we had a nice dinner and a lovely visit with my aunt and uncle, my mom, and Nana and Papa, before he chauffeured us back home. The "problem" of the day certainly had nothing to do with Jason. Any struggles I had today came from the one person who allows me to celebrate this day in the first place - Abby.

Now, all weekend she's been off, but today I really started to become concerned that her demanding and argumentative behavior is more than just a bad night's sleep, her still recovering from sickness, a phase, or any of the other fifteen excuses I've made. I really began mulling this over as we drove home from my mom's. See Abby decided that she didn't want to sit in her booster seat, and since it is very easy for her to get out of it she did. Despite the fact that I was in the back seat with her, I couldn't get her back in her seat. That's when Jason followed through with the threat that fathers have been giving since time began - he pulled the car over. Now, Dada putting her back in her seat and telling her "that is enough!" was enough for her to understand there would be no more messing around for the rest of the trip. There were tears (Abby's) and a few choice words (Mom and Dad's), but otherwise it was a pretty quiet trip home. It gave me plenty of time to think.

I'm sorry to say my first thought was a pretty selfish one - Well, this was a great Mother's Day, but the more I thought about it, the more I realized how silly it was for me to think that Mother's Day is a day "off" in the first place. How do you take a "day off" from something that you are? Once you are a mother you never stop being one, no matter what day it is.

Was my day really ruined? No! In fact, I had a very nice day. I got a great card from Abby (that happened to play "You're Some Kind of Wonderful" and that she didn't want to give me because she was too busy dancing with it when Jason gave it to her to sign), I got a lovely storybook that Abby made at school that talked about our family - with original illustrations. I got a face full of kisses as we were getting ready to leave this afternoon, and after Abby looked up at me and told me I had a nice face. I got to spend the day with two of the most wonderful mothers there are, and to hear Abby say, "Surprise - Mother's Day!" as we handed them their cards. There were even some moments in the car that were special. Once the storm had passed Abby turned her teary eyes to mine and sweetly apologized, and when I told her she needed to listen to Mommy and Daddy, and do what we tell her she said, "Okay, Mama" in her raspy voice. She then grabbed my arm and cuddled with me the rest of the way home, only to fall asleep on my shoulder about five minutes before we got here.

It is always helpful when Abby ends a difficult day sweetly, which she does nine out of ten times, but that's not to say Jason and I won't be discussing her behavior and ways in which she can learn what we expect of her. So, you could say my day ran the gamut today, one minute sweet and another sour - from being Abby's hero to being her nemesis - from being what filled her heart, to what broke it, all of which are parts of what it means to be a mother. In other words, on this Mother's Day I was fully and completely a mother - and you know what? I couldn't ask for anything else - "yucky bits" and all.

Happy Mother's Day to all of you courageous souls out there!

Since I didn't get any good pictures of Abby today, I thought I would show one from my first Mother's Day, May 8th 2005. Here's Abby in the arms of one spectacular mom - Grandma K. She had such a special place in her heart for Abby, and I think Abby knew that - do you see her winking at Grandma? I love this picture!