Saturday, June 30, 2012

A Wedding

This afternoon we had the honor of attending the wedding of a good friend's daughter (who also happens to be a former student of mine). It was a beautiful service, and as I watched George walk his lovely daughter down the aisle I couldn't help but wonder if someday that would be Jason escorting Abby to her future husband.

When we first got the diagnosis of Down syndrome I couldn't see a future that included marriage for my child. This was just one of my misconceptions about people with Ds. Knowing Abby as I do, I can no longer discount this as an impossibility. I fully expect that there will come a day when Abby is ready to move out of our house, a day when Abby decides to got off to college, and yes, a day when she just might come to us to tell us she's engaged.

Whenever I've brought this up to Jason, his reaction is always the same, "No way!" I have to laugh at this "typical" father's response. No father can imagine that anyone is good enough for their little girl and with Jason that feeling is especially keen.


If Abby has taught me anything, it has been not to put limits on her, so there may just come a day when we go shopping for wedding dresses, and look for just the right flowers and cake - what a day that would be!

Whatever the future holds I know it will be bright and beautiful - and that we'll all be ready for it when it comes!

One of my all time favorite pictures of my two favorite people.

Practicing?

Friday, June 29, 2012

Friday Phone Dump

There is one blog that I read where the author will do what she calls the "Friday Phone Dump". I've kept that idea in my back pocket, ready to pull out when I need it. So, tonight I will just "dump" pictures from my phone and share some of our fun from the day.


As is often the case, Abby will change outfits several times throughout the day. Today, as
I was looking for some fabric to make some headbands I came across a dress I'd made her. She wanted that on, and then chose the shirt to go under it. Wearing the headband I made, she completed her rather eclectic look. The face tops it off though!

 Abby came up with the idea for this picture all on her own. She's done this with oranges, but this is the first "apple smile" she's given - that I know of anyway.

 I had to include this one, just because she looks so exasperated with me!

Although I look rather tired, I loved this picture because of Abby's smile. We were having fun mugging for the camera as she chomped on her bubble gum. She just looks so happy here.

 Fish faces - 'nuff said.


Bruiser doesn't look very convinced that Abby lovin' is what he needs at this moment. Seconds before though he was "tickling" her by nosing her legs, and she was laughing up a storm. 

Today was a fun day, with not only camera worthy moments, but lots of fun one-liners from my Abby-girl. She was in a great mood and kept me laughing - you can't ask for more than that!

Thursday, June 28, 2012

One Third

Tonight's post has some significance - not because of the content, but because of the number. This is post number 122. For one hundred twenty-two days I've sat at my computer (mostly at the end of the evening) and reflected on my day. For one hundred and twenty-two days I've given you a peek into my head and invited you into my home. For one hundred and twenty-two days I've shared Abby with you.

Now, you may be wondering: What's with the "one hundred and twenty-two days"? Well if you do the math 122 is one third of 365 (actually it is 121.66666, but I decided to round up) - we are a third of the way through our year. Can you believe it? I can't. Now, I know that technically I had a couple of posts before the actual "year" started, but we're going to go with that number. I though tonight would be a good time to review were we've been so far.

In the beginning you learned Abby's birth story (if you didn't already know it), and a bit about her first days at home. You got a pretty good picture that Abby is someone who loves fun - loves dressing up and dancing, but who also struggles to keep it together when she's over stimulated, and is pretty short on patience. You met Bruiser and saw how those two often act like siblings, and a few of Abby's friends, both new and old.

You heard about the many times Abby was under-the-weather, and even a surprise surgery to reattach the tip of her finger. You heard about our loving extended family, and how much Abby lights up their world. I also introduced you to some of the wonderful people that have worked with Abby over the school year, and how much they mean to us.

I've shared some of my fears and struggles as I seek to be the best mother I can be to my little girl, and you've even gotten an ear-full of some of my pet peeves (lucky you!). You've even gotten to celebrate in some of our milestones. Remember when Abby learned her first red word? What about the first time she went to the movies?

To be honest it has not always been easy to write my posts each day. I've had many nights when I'm just too tired and done thinking, but then Jason will give me "that" look, and I'll pull my computer out and get writing. I've had some people ask me if I have some posts written up and waiting in the wings, and I tell them that no, I don't, because much of what I write is about thoughts or moments from the day. I will say that I've been amazed at the number of people that will tell me they enjoy reading "Abby stories"- not because she isn't entertaining, but because I'm humbled that people would take the time to read what I write. So, thank you for taking time out of your day to "listen" and to get to know my little girl.

If the first third is anything to go by, the next two should be pretty interesting - so stay tuned, you never know what will happen with Abby around!

This morning Abby got to go play with her friends
while Mom did homework. She wanted to take her
mirror with her. She chatted with herself the whole
way there, and when we got there (and I told her she
had to leave the mirror in the car) she turned to it and
said, "Good-bye, Friend."

After yesterday's crazy day I gave myself a manicure (red nails
always make me feel better), and so Abby wanted her nails
polished this afternoon. I don't know if you can tell, but she
requested purple polish with pink polka-dots - I did the best
I could, but it isn't easy getting "dots" on those tiny nails!


Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Counting My Blessings

Today is a day when I need to count my blessings. It was a rough day around the house and so I'm going to focus on the positive.


  1. The car is alright - After getting Abby excited about a day at child care, where she would get to go on a field trip to the park and eat ice cream, we slathered on the sunscreen, packed up a lunch and extra clothes, and climbed in the car. We were both thrilled....until I hit the ignition button and nothing happened. Literally nothing - no engine sounds, no radio, no fan, no clock, no.... nothing. The car was dead. As Abby started complaining in the back, I looked and realized that I'd left the lights on and the battery was dead. It was a harrowing few hours that included hooking the car up to the mower (so we could at least get it in neutral and Jason could push it out of the garage), then hooking it up to Jason's car (which started things smoking), and then back to the mower so we were finally were able to drive it to a garage. At this point the windows weren't working and the engine sounded really wrong - we were worried that somehow the electrical system had gone kaput. Luckily, like a kid who miraculously feels better once they get to the doctor's office, there were no problems and all is as it should be once again. We were able to pick the car up and the whole way home all Abby talked about was how nice it was to have our car back and that it was, "all better now."
  2. Abby and I survived our fall (virtually) unscathed - The whole time we (meaning Jason) was fiddling with the car Abby wanted to go swimming. There were a couple of problems with that. One, there is no water in the pool because we drained it in order to give it a good cleaning. The cleaning had not yet happened, so it was dirty and empty. Secondly, I had the sneaking suspicion that we would be heading to the mechanics with the cars, so I didn't want her wet when we went for that ride. So, I promised her that when we got home I would clean the pool as she played in the sprinkler. Everything went fine, she even helped me get the hose to the back of the house so I could set up the sprinkler...then she saw the empty pool and lost it. She was so heartbroken that there was no water in the pool, that she didn't want to listen to reason or have anything to do with consoling from Mom. Finally, I just picked her up and started walking towards the house thinking of scrapping the whole thing. Now, if you have ever seen our yard you will know that it's pretty big (our house is actually on three lots). In that vast expanse of lawn I was able to find the one large hole we have - and step right in it. With a twist of my ankle we both went down, and Abby howled even louder (I certainly don't blame her). As I was sitting on the grass, checking her over to make sure she was okay, I heard a knock on the window behind me. Jason (who at this point was already a tiny bit irritated with me anyway about the whole "leaving the lights on" thing), waved us in the house - telling us just to come inside. That's when I had to yell to him that I'd fallen and (say it with me) I couldn't get up. He came out to our rescue and grabbed a weeping Abby off my lap so I could stand. I'm happy to say that we are both a-okay. Sure my ankle hurts a bit, and I'm almost positive that I wrenched my knee in that fall, but it isn't unbearable. After an ice cream cone Abby was able to get her composure back and have a good day.
  3. I got my homework done - You know, I feel bad for Abby. Not only is she an only child, so that means nine out of ten times she only has Mom to play with, but Mom also often has work to do. Such was the case today. I had several assignments that were due today - this was why I was going to take her in to child care in the first place - so she could actually have a good time. That didn't work out, so she was stuck at home with me. So, in between the food serving, the costume changing, the living room dancing, and the couch cuddling, I was able to read my assigned readings and respond to questions. This is a not only a blessing, but a minor miracle.
  4. Abby is now sleeping soundly - After having "one of those days" we are all a bit tuckered out. As I was finishing up yet another assignment, Abby started to get whiney and fickle, as she often does when she's tired. Luckily, Jason swept in and commandeered her to help him make a pan of brownies. She was good with that, since she loves cooking. So, as her foot tapped to Billy Joel's "Extremes" she stirred those brownies like nobody's business. We had a bit of a problem when the time came to put them in the pan, but with the addition of another bowl and a bit of extra flour she was able to resume her stirring duties. Before long the music got the better of her and she commanded Dada to dance with her "in the kitchen", and so they started swaying....and then she ended up in his arms.....and then she put her head on his shoulder....and then he walked with her upstairs....and then he came downstairs alone - with a bit of brownie drool on his t-shirt. She was out like a light.
There you have it, my attempt to find the sliver lining in our trying day. For now I'm going to go put my feet up, enjoy some mind-numbing TV, and be happy that not every day is this rough.

As you can imagine I didn't give a thought to getting out
the camera today, so I had to go to the "archives" for this
one. Here we have Abby leading a mealtime prayer for Rapunzel,
Mulan, and Merida. They are all listening so intently, aren't they?

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

A Letter

June 26, 1999

Dear 1999 Elizabeth,

Congratulations! You finally made it to the day of your wedding. I know, more than most, how stressful the last few weeks have been, but remember all that planning you (or should I say "Jason") did? It's about to pay off. Don't be nervous, the ceremony will be beautiful, hot, but beautiful. Everything will go just as planned, that is except for that pesky hanger string that somehow found its way out of the sleeve of your dress. You do end up going through the whole service with it hanging from your armpit, but no one really noticed - or at least they didn't say anything.

I have a few pieces of advice as you begin a new chapter of your life, but knowing you as I do you probably think I don't know what I'm talking about and are going to run out and do whatever you want anyway. Humor me.

First, enjoy the moment. My dear, you have a pesky habit of looking ahead to "the next thing" and missing what is happening in front of you. Believe me, everything will come when it is supposed to - and not a minute sooner. God's got it all planned out for you, this is one thing you don't have to worry about. So, round about years three and four, when all of your friends are having their babies, back off and leave poor Jason alone about starting a family. It won't be time yet. But when it is - does God have a surprise for you! It's a really, really good one, and well worth waiting for, so enjoy those childless years - and take lots of naps, lots and lots of naps.

Second, appreciate your differences. There will be times when both you and Jason look at each other and wonder how in the world you ended up together. You both are so very different in many ways. He isn't going to understand the importance of never using fabric scissors on paper - just accept it. Oh, and he really hates being late, so stop doing your nails right before you get in the car to go somewhere. The fact that you will no longer have to think about what bills are due when is a huge trade off. He will also take care of your car - just make sure you remember to tell him when the light comes on, alright? When those moments come when you both really get irritated (and they will) just remember that you balance each other out, and that you are very alike when it comes to what really matters. 

Finally, the sooner you learn to keep your cool, the happier you will be. Truth be told you have been known to blow things a bit out of proportion from time to time. That creative mind of yours has a way of running away from you, and sending you into panic mode. Sometimes it's as simple as knowing that when that grill grate goes through Jason's toe, he doesn't want a cold cloth for his forehead. Other times though it will be more important that you relax and take a few deep breaths before you think your world is crashing in around you. There will come a day when things seem bleak and and the future doesn't look as bright as it does today, but remember this, that "difficulty" will quickly become your greatest blessing. As the years go on that Blessing will multiply and make your life richer than you ever could have imagined. In other words - there is no panicking necessary.

So, enjoy your day. It is a celebration of the life that you have ahead of you - a wonderful life, with a wonderful man beside you. 

Love,
2012 Elizabeth

P.S. You might want to skip the Bed and Breakfast altogether on your honeymoon. The whole thing just got weird with the crazy innkeeper, and you end up sneaking out during the night anyway. Best to avoid the whole situation.

If you hadn't guessed today is our anniversary. Here we
are saying our vows in the Chapel of the Holy Trinity,
the campus chapel of the college where we met.

This is probably my favorite picture of the day (or at least
one of them). We didn't even know that the photographer
was taking our picture.

Jason's brother was the Best Man and my sister was the Matron of Honor -
just in case you couldn't tell, we both have just a slight resemblance to
our siblings.


This would be The Blessing to which I was referring.

Monday, June 25, 2012

The Hulk

Abby spent the bulk of her day playing with friends at child care. She was a bit reluctant to go, but once I told her I would pick her up some breakfast on the way, she was semi-okay with it all. The only problem was that she wanted me to get her pizza for breakfast. When that was a no-go she tried to posture for some nuggets....and when Mom shot that one down too, she moved on to wanting a hot dog. Finally, not giving her a voice in the choice any more I picked her up a donut and that was that. She still was going on and on about pizza as we drove to school, and so I had to "instruct" her that there are some things that are breakfast foods and somethings that aren't. As soon as the words were out of my mouth I heard a little voice in my head ask: Why? Jason will often eat last night's leftovers for breakfast (mainly because most "breakfast foods" don't appeal to him), where is it written that some foods are okay for breakfast and others are not? Luckily Abby didn't question my ridiculous comment and once we got to school, and she saw some familiar faces, she was more than happy to sit down with her donut and eat her breakfast.

We both went about our days separately until I came back to school to get her. One of the things I love the best is "spying"on her before she knows I'm there. As I peeked through the small window in the orange door of the room she was in I had a rather startling sight. I saw her right away, but I had to laugh because there was my darling little princess dressed in an Incredible Hulk costume - complete with bulging muscles and tattered pants. The costume fit her perfectly and it was hilarious. The best part was that she was walking around and playing with the other kids like it was no big deal, that of course she would be wearing an Incredible Hulk outfit!

As Miss Lynn gathered her things she asked me if I just wanted to take the costume home and bring it back another day. It was then that I noticed that Miss Lynn had all of Abby's clothes in her hands. I could just imagine how Abby had stripped down to her underwear in order to put that costume on. I also noticed that the zipper on the costume was broken, and Abby's bare back was there for all to see, but I know that didn't bother her one bit. Abby came running up to me, struck a pose, and told me she was a superhero. Once again I was reminded how great my kid is. I couldn't wait to get her out to the car so I could get my phone and take a picture - which is what I did once I had "The Hulk" all settled in with her seatbelt buckled.

She wore that costume all afternoon and evening, and when she came running up to Jason when he got home we both let out a laugh. She did a bit of showing off her muscles and then it was back to playing with the Play-Doh (the bright green Play-Doh she had requested, to match her muscles.)

Tonight I will leave you with the images that made me smile today: Little Miss Incredible Hulk.

Showing off her muscles!

Even the Hulk needs a little down time to eat some string cheese
and watch some TV.

"Huh? What's that you say? There's someone in trouble?"

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Words

Maybe it's the fact that I have spend the weekend working on homework for my graduate classes, and that much of what I'm reading, writing, and thinking about has to do with words, but today I got thinking about how powerful words really are. This is something that I try to convey to my students, that words - both written and spoken - have a force. They have the capacity to do so many things. My mind meandered and brought me to thoughts about the words I say to Abby.  By no means do I always say the right thing, in fact there are so many times when I say exactly the wrong thing, but there are four phrases that I make sure to include in each of Abby's days.
Abby proudly displaying her picture of a
"Merida (from "Brave") shooting an arrow"
 - I can see that, can't you? Didn't she do a good job?
And isn't hersmile beautiful?
I'm sorry, but I love this kid!
  1. I love you - I want Abby to be certain that she is loved - I mean really certain. Most days I can't count how many times I tell her I love her - or how many ways. I will ask her things like, "Do you know how much I love you?" to which she will likely respond, "Yeah." There are also the funny I love you songs we sing that get Bruiser going, but when I truly want to get my point across I will look her in the eye and very simply say, "I love you." It is important that she hears those words often from me, and that she knows they are important words.
  2. You are beautiful - Sometimes it may come out as, "You are so pretty!", but the idea is the same. She is beautiful. Her smile can light up a room, her laughter can brighten my spirit, and those pink little cheeks are just so kissable, I can hardly stand it. She needs to know she is beautiful, both inside and out.
  3. Good job! - Many things don't come easily to Abby, so when she spends time working on filling a paper with color, or cutting that same paper into tiny pieces, or even takes a trip to the potty all by herself, she's done a good (dare I say "great"?) job. I know that I work best when I feel encouraged, and why wouldn't Abby feel the same? She does a lot of "good jobs" throughout the day, and I want her to feel that by the end of it. I know that a lot of little "good jobs" can add up to one big feeling of, "I can do it!"
  4. I'm sorry - Whether it be when I mistakenly step on her foot as I am walking past, or because I lost my patience with her, I need to make sure that she knows I'm sorry when I've done something wrong. I expect her to apologize when she does wrong, why wouldn't I? I sometimes wonder if parents got the idea somewhere that we can't be vulnerable in front of our kids, but to me, apologizing shows strength - not weakness. 
Today's post is a reminder to me, not to discount my words and to always remember how very, very important they are. I used all of these phrases today, when I apologized for raising my voice when she wouldn't let go of my sweater, when she proudly showed me the pictures she had colored, when she came to show me how wonderfully she had brushed through her hair (on her own) after her bath, and when we were cuddling before bedtime. Yes, I must never forget the importance of words, because words have power.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Ho-Hum

Today was a bit of a "ho-hum" kind of a day, where nothing really spectacular (or vexing) happened. We just meandered through our day, doing bits and pieces of what needed to get done, but didn't really have any plans or goals. We knew we needed to stay home - none of us were feeling that great. Abby is fighting a cold, Jason is about over this heat (and how it makes him feel), and I'm just tired.

Mom and Dad each took turns doing homework and taking naps, while Abby romped around in her skivvies having fun playing with whoever was around. I did do a bit of cleaning today, but round about the second time I had scraps of paper to take care of - I gave up.

See, Abby has taken to cutting paper lately. She loves it! She will first draw something on a piece of paper and then she grabs her scissors and gets going. I don't really mind this for several reasons. First, it is great practice for her. Managing scissors has always been a bit difficult for her, (it isn't easy getting those things to work right in your hand - especially if you are still trying to decide which hand you prefer). Secondly, it keeps her busy. This sounds horrible, but I have to get the dishes done at some point, and handing off the crayons and scissors keeps her occupied long enough to let me clean up a bit. Finally, she really likes doing it, and ultimately it isn't hurting anyone. I have made sure to drive home the point with her that we only cut paper. I'm secretly waiting for the day when she comes to me with shorn hair, but so far we've been fortunate on that one.

The only real problem with this new pastime is that she leaves little piles of papers everywhere. It has become typical for me to come across various mounds left behind after she has been busy. Usually, I make a game of picking it up with her. (Although there have been time when she impudently tells me that it is "Mama's turn to clean up" when I tell her I need her help. That stinker!) After a bit of convincing (my line is usually: "I didn't make the mess, I shouldn't have to clean it up.") we grab a grocery bag and go at all the little pieces with gusto. She does enjoy this part as well - most days - but on this "ho-hum" day she wasn't up for it, and I wasn't up for arguing, so armed with a my own bag I set to gathering.

Overall, it was a good day - a good low-key day. You know though, you need those days every now and again. So I will finish my post by leaving you with a short video clip I took the other day (when things weren't so "ho-hum"). Abby and I were having some fun and I was able to get us trading jokes. If this doesn't make you smile - I don't know what will.

video




Friday, June 22, 2012

Let's Go To the Movies

I have always loved going to the movies. I can remember how excited I was when my mom would grab her "Big Purse" and fill it with contraband treats for the theater. I even remember one time my mom packed up lunches, complete with sandwiches wrapped in wax paper and Town Club pops. I've always thought it would be a blast if Abby shared my love of movies on the big screen - we could spend the summers hopping from theater to theater, and munching on popcorn. The thing is, Abby has had such a fear of big places, loud noises, and the dark that we always figured a movie theater would be torture for her. We've batted the idea around from time to time, but I've always chickened out - worried that she wouldn't be able to handle it, and not wanting to traumatize her.

Today the movie "Brave" opened in theaters, which I'm sure you knew if you have a child under the age of 14, or if you love anything Pixar creates. Since I fall into both of those categories, I've been looking forward to this. One of my friends had mentioned wanting to see it, so I was thrilled about having someone to go with - assuming that Jason wasn't really into the whole Scottish Lass meets computer animation genre. I had hoped that we could go this evening, but it didn't work out for her. Then, a couple of days ago I got a message from her letting me know that a group of friends were taking their kids to see it this afternoon, and she wondered if I could go. My first thought (and response) was, "No." Jason was swamped with work, and there was no one to watch Abby.

Yesterday as I was talking it over with Jason, I suddenly got teary. Not because I wasn't going to be able to go - that would be childish. I was upset because it seemed this was one more fun thing Abby would miss out on because of some of her struggles. After crying all over Jason he looked at me like I'd lost my mind and very simply said, "Then take her." Huh? "If it doesn't work you guys leave - it's only money."

Well, huh. He had a point.


I quickly sent a note to my friend letting her know that I'd changed my mind and that Abby and I would be joining them. Jason was right, what was I being so uptight about? Why wasn't I giving her a chance? If anytime would work to try out a movie, it would be when so many of her good buddies were going. So, from there I set about getting her ready for her first film experience.

First we talked it up big. We told her that her friends would be going and that she would get to go to the Movies!!! I also had her watch the trailer for the film several times (Thank you Youtube), and she got so into it that she took over the iPad and watched every one of them - several times. At this point she was so excited to go see Princess Merida. In fact, those were the first words out of her mouth this morning.

This trend could catch on - don't you think?
She was thrilled to see her friends. Check. She wanted to watch the redheaded princess ride her horse. Check. Now....what to do about the loud noise? I thought about that one and wondered if I should bring some headphones, but thinking that might confuse her I got out my knitting needles and some lovely bright red yarn and made her some "Magical Movie Mufflers" a.k.a. earmuffs. I told her that these were magical and that when the movie got too loud they would help make it softer. She loved her "muffers" so sound was taken care of. Check. I glossed over the whole "big dark room" thing and focused on the fact that we would get to pick big comfy chairs to sit in, and we were off.

I also happened to mention the popcorn, so when we walked in the theater she wanted to know when we'd get that great big tub. Soon she was fixed up and ready to go. As soon as we got to the open door of our theater though, she put the breaks on, but that didn't turn out to be such a problem - thanks to my great friends. They grabbed my stuff while I grabbed Abby. I carried her down the aisle while she covered her ears, but as soon as she saw the legos dancing on the screen, and the other kids in their seats, she couldn't wait to join them. I was blown away when she promptly climbed up in her booster seat, grabbed the popcorn for her lap, and started stuffing her face as she watched the previews. Was it really going to be this easy?


Too busy getting into the popcorn to look at Mom!
Apparently.

She took to theater movies like a natural. Sure, she was a little loud when she would try to repeat the lines the actors gave, and there was that one point when the first song of the movie played that she handed me her popcorn, climbed down from her chair and said, "I've got to dance!"- which she promptly did, but overall she was awesome. I couldn't believe it, and I have to admit I felt rather bad that I was willing to count her out because I thought she couldn't handle it.

With about 15 minutes left of the film she kept telling me to "go to the car and drive home." It seems that she had found her independent legs and had no more need of me. In the end we were able to lure her out of the theater (after she ran to the front and plopped herself down next to some poor guy that had been sitting by himself). As I told her how proud I was of her, she chatted about going to see another movie, and I promised her that we would - that maybe next time we would take Dada with us. She thought that would be great!

Once again I've learned not to underestimate my amazing little girl. It looks like I'll need to start looking around for my own version of the "Big Purse", because I hear there's some great movies coming out soon, and we've got lost time to make up for.
Finally I got her attention for a "Cheese!"
Trying out her "muffers" while the previews got going.
She didn't need them the whole movie, but periodically
she would ask for them when things got a bit loud.

It was an added bonus that the movie was in 3D. Good thing
glasses aren't a problem for Abby.



Thursday, June 21, 2012

Sleep!

Many of you know that Abby is not the best sleeper. In fact, I could count on one hand (actually more like two fingers) the number of times she has slept through the night. I know there are several reasons for this, much of it having to do with how I've "taught" her to go to sleep, but some of it has to do with factors that are out of our control.

When she was little I would put her to sleep by rocking her, walking with her, or even bouncing on an exercise ball (it sounds crazy, but it was actually a great way to get her to sleep). I was ever so thankful when she finally was out of her crib and I could simply lay next to her in bed to put her to sleep. Now, I knew as I was soothing her to sleep she wasn't leaning to do it for herself, but I'd tried all the "self-soothing" exercises. There many nights when I would lay on the floor next to her crib as she cried, or sit outside her bedroom door, as she stripped out of her clothes and got rid of all her blankets. Nothing seemed to work, she could out wait me like a pro - seriously, there were nights when this would take hours, before I finally gave in and rocked her to sleep - because I was exhausted.

It was in those hours of sitting in a chair in her room waiting for that "self-soothing" to kick in that I began to notice something. There were times when she just couldn't get her feet and legs to "settle" - they were constantly moving, and at times she acted like she was actually in pain. We talked with the doctor about it and even her therapists, but everyone was at a loss. When she would have trouble with this we would sometimes do joint compressions, and believe it or not there were many nights when she would fall asleep while we did them. I could never understand it. Obviously, she needed the extra input. This was the beginning of our suspicions that she had some sensory issues.

Time when on, and since I work outside the house it just became easier to sooth her to sleep with cuddles, joint compressions, and even brushing (this is a technique that therapists use where they take a special, soft, brush and rub arms, legs, hands, feet, etc. in order to give a child more input and to help soothe them). Usually about 3-4 hours into her night of sleep she would wake up and want some water, and Mom. I would lay back down and soothe her back to sleep. This became a pattern that continues to this day.

In the scheme of things this really isn't a big deal. It works for us, and Abby and I seem to be able to function with interrupted sleep. I know it isn't ideal, and that is why a few months ago I made her a weighted blanket, thinking that might help her settle. (I posted how I did it to the "Tutorials" page I added.) The blanket does settle her as she winds down for sleep nine time out of ten, but she still isn't making it through the night.

At Abby's last physical I asked her doctor about any other "tricks" for sleeping. He mentioned melatonin. I'd heard of this, and done some research, but I really hate having her "take" something to help her sleep. Her doctor assured me that it was natural and that it wasn't going to cause her body to stop making melatonin naturally. Thinking we'd tried so much, I figured it might be worth a go.

We got some chewable tablets and tonight was the first time Abby tried it. I was gone at a meeting, so Jason gave her the lowest dose the doctor recommended, not knowing how she would handle it. He laughed when he told me that she chewed it up and said, "Oh, it tastes good!" When he asked her what it tasted like she said, "It tastes like smiles!" Isn't that great?

He noticed that she was getting sleepy, and by the time I got home she was out like a light. We will see if this has any effect on how she sleeps through the night. I'm cautiously hopeful that this will work, although I'm not naive enough to think that one supplement will "cure" years of sleep trouble, but I'm hoping that we are headed in the right direction, and by the time we start school back up in the fall everyone will be able to enjoy a full night's sleep.

Yesterday we made cookies - Abby decided to count them....

....and then eat them.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

"Oh" Boy!

It's "Blog Hop" day! This week's prompt was pictures - funny pictures, endearing pictures, beautiful pictures, any pictures you wanted to share. I knew I wanted to participate this week because we have so many wonderful pictures of Abby. The only problem was going to be how to narrow them down. I have over 12,000 pictures on my computer alone - and most of them are of Abby. When I sat down this afternoon to look through them I noticed a trend. We seemed to have a plethora of pictures with her making a sort of surprised, "Oh!" face. Out of curiosity I began tagging just those pictures, and by the time I was done I had over thirty (thirty-three to be exact).

I figured the easiest thing to do was to mash them all together into a digital story format. I found the perfect song by Dan Zanes ("Shining Star") and ba-da-boom, ba-da-bing here it is.

video

I had to wonder as I reflected on the vast number of pictures containing the same face if this was something that we inadvertently taught Abby as we held the camera up for pictures. Then I came across this one, and everything became clear.

Papa is to blame.

Enjoy hopping around and taking a peek at the other pictures on the list - there are some pretty cute pictures out there!

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Happy Birthday, Papa!

Abby loves birthdays. Of course she loves her birthday most of all, but in a pinch it doesn't matter. All of the trappings of a birthday celebration are wonderful for her - the presents, the cake, the candles, and the singing. Today was a great day for several reasons, but most of all because it was Papa's birthday.

Since we didn't see the family on Father's Day we decided that we would head out to see Papa today and have a Father's Day/Birthday celebration. Abby had been practicing her, "Happy Birthday, Papa!" all day, and so when we finally got there she was primed and ready to go. She burst in the house, carrying Papa's gift, and went right to the birthday boy to give a hug, a kiss, and a birthday greeting. She couldn't even wait for the cake, and so after "hellos" all around she launched into a beautifully sweet rendition of the "Happy Birthday" song.
The looks on their faces says it all.

Soon enough she was asking for cake, but luckily we were able to put her off until after dinner. Following that there was no more putting her off. She sat at the counter drooling over that yummy cake as Nana rustled up some candles - then it was show time. Papa was kind enough to let Abby blow out the candles, and Nana was nice enough to cut a frosting covered piece just for her.

Before long it was time to head out, and as we pulled away from the house I couldn't help but think about what a nice evening it had been. Maybe Abby is on to something with her love of birthday celebrations. Maybe every family gathering should have cake, candles, and singing.

This morning at school Abby decided to help out in the office.
Looks like a natural, doesn't she?

Gearing up for the big blow-out!

Papa helped Abby wash up after the cake, so
Abby decided to return the favor. She gave
his arm a good scrub and then told him he
needed to go take a shower. Such a sassy girl!

Monday, June 18, 2012

Abby-isms

For the past week or so I've been gathering "Abby-isms" until I got enough for a blog post. After today, I think I finally met my quota. So enjoy them, I hope they make you laugh - they certainly did us.

Goofball
While riding in the car to go shopping, I was singing some silly song about going to the store. After Abby stopped howling like Bruiser I heard her laugh and say, "Mom, you're a goofball." Nice.

Jokes
Mom: How do you make a tissue dance? [pause] You put a little boogie in it!
Abby: Rooster [pause] A duck! [hysterical laughing] (?????)

Orders
On another car trip I was sitting in the back with Abby and she suddenly turned to me and said, "Rock the Casbah!" What!?!

BJ's #1 Fan
On yet another car trip we were skipping through a playlist and landed on Billy Joel's "I Go to Extremes". Abby started singing along - and knew all the words. We have no idea how she knows that song, but she wanted to hear "Extremes" over and over again. Hmmmm......

AFV
Tonight when we told her that we were going to put on a funny show (America's Funniest Home Videos) she said, "Okay, where people get hurt." Um....yep, I guess she nailed that one.

Snack Time
This afternoon she told me she was hungry.
Mom: You have three choices: banana, yogurt, or applesauce.
Abby: Ummm [tapping her finger to her chin] Let's see......Um....how 'bout....orange popsicle.

Cleaning
I finally got around to really straightening up our bedroom. This afternoon Abby came in while I was finishing and she exclaimed, "Wow! What happened here? It's all clean! Good job, Mom." Yikes! Apparently I need to clean more often.

These are only a smattering of the funny things this kid says. I love how much she is talking and coming up with such creative and fun things - all on her own. For years now her personality has shown through in her actions and her spirit, but now we are starting to get a bit of that sassiness in her words - and it's lovely. I'm sure I missed a few of her zingers, and will probably remember about five of them once I've sent my post, but I think you get the idea. Once again, Abby is a blast, and you never know what's going to come out of her mouth.

Abby wanted to wear the towel like Mama.
The thing was, it was too heavy, and so she needed
her hands to help bear the weight!

Now really....I ask you...who's the real goofball?

Sunday, June 17, 2012

What "Dada" Means

From the moment Abby came into the world, Jason has been by her side. The bond between those two was instantaneous, and I've had the pleasure of watching it grow stronger over the years. Jason is an amazing father - I wish you all could see those two together, it is a pleasure to watch. I got to thinking how very meaningful the title of "Dada" is. I know it means different things to different people, but here are a few phrases that illustrate what Dada means around here.

What "Dada" Means


Dada means

singing funny words 
to familiar tunes
waltzing in the living room
and always ending with a dip
giving surprises
just because
seeing the humor
even during tantrums

Dada means

finding safety
from scary window monsters
being strong
to hoist high for shoulder rides
possessing wisdom
when choosing battles
maintaining patience
at times when control is impossible

Dada means

telling stories
about princesses and knights
painting fingernails
a bright pink that makes her heart happy
playing Barbies
because she asks
inflating balloons
  just to see her smile



So, Happy Father's Day to all of you amazing Dadas out there.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

My Marble

Imagine, if you will, a pile of marbles - lovely, shiny, round marbles. Now, picture those marbles being dropped to a wooden floor where they scatter and roll in every direction. Do you go after the one by your foot, or the one that is headed under the couch, first? I bet you're feeling flustered, a bit frantic, and a mite frustrated. Welcome to my shopping trip with Abby.

I knew today would come, just as I knew the day would come when she no longer fit in the front seat of the grocery cart. Today, she decided that even the back of the basket was not a good fit - therefore she had her first "unrestrained" shopping outing. I guess I should be thankful that she lasted this long - I mean, how many seven year olds still ride in the cart, but I wasn't ready.

We needed to go to the store to finish up  a few Father's Day things, and she did pretty well, until we hit the card section. Really I can't blame her though. I hated standing around while my mom read nearly every card in the display, looking for the perfect one. Round about the third time she wanted to climb up into the cart and out again, I grabbed the nearest card that looked pretty good and we moved on (sorry Papa).

Next we needed a frame, which happened to be right across the aisle from a great big door mirror. This was wonderful while I hemmed and hawed over which frame would be just right, but when I was ready to move on, Abby was not. She was mid-groove and she didn't want to stop. So thinking that she might come if I moved on, I slipped out of sight and waited. Well, she did notice I was gone, but she went running off in the opposite direction to find me. So, leaving my cart (with my purse) I went after my "marble" and chased her down. She was a little ticked at this point and so she pulled a "wet-noodle" on me and went down like a sack of potatoes. With a promise to head down the doll aisle if she was good we got moving again. This time to the photo section. It was after our order was placed that I realized now was the time to make a run for the Barbie district.




Once she had her treasure she was much better, but she was a little distracted. I had to make sure to keep one eye on her and one on where I was pushing the cart because there were numerous times that she nearly plowed into a display because she was too busy looking at the doll she'd gotten. I'm sure I sounded like a broken record - "Abby, come on. This way Abby. Abby...Abby...Abigail...over here. Stay with Mama, Abby." and on it went. I think that everyone in that store knew her name by the time we left.

I got a couple of other items, not everything we needed, but enough for today, and we were out of there - or at least heading in that direction. We got to the check-out and after sidling up to the worker who was in charge of the self-scan stations while I took care of most of our purchases, she finally scanned her doll and we were able to leave.

I suppose in the scheme of things it didn't go that badly, but I think we will let Jason continue doing the grocery shopping for a bit longer.
We had a long car trip out to a graduation party today.
On the ride home Abby did all she could to entertain herself -
she even pretended to sleep for a second or two.

She took all the things out of her bag,
and decided that the bag was more fun to play with.


Her reward for good behavior in the car? An evening dip
in the pool.
She discovered splashing!



Friday, June 15, 2012

The Pool

Today's highlight was The Pool! The other day while I was at the store I picked up a "family size" pool that was "easy" to set up in "15 minutes or less". I had to laugh last night as Jason spent about two hours inflating that thing (apparently our pump isn't heavy duty), and then it took about an hour this morning to fill it with water - easy, right? Not so much.

It all paid off though when I took Abby out this afternoon. I'd hoped that the water had had enough time to warm up - it didn't. I have to hand it to Abby, though because despite the cold, she forged ahead, she wasn't going to miss a chance to swim for anything. I had come out armed with a book (which I never opened) and my camera (which I did use), so I will let the pictures speak for themselves.

Hello Hollywood!

Happy Girl

Ahhh!
Ain't summer grand?


Soaking up the sun.
Hopefully the pool will have warmed up by tomorrow, because from the moment we literally dragged her out of it, she has not stopped talking about getting back in it. I see a sunny and wet summer ahead of us.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Just a Moment

As I sit looking back on another busy day, and think about what I'm going to write about today I keep finding myself coming back to just a moment. In the scheme of things this moment was very short - only minutes, but it was the very best part of my day.

We began the day heading off to school, me for meetings and Abby to play. She was rather excited because besides the fact that she would get to play with "her kids" (the term she uses for any of her group of friends), it was field trip day. They were heading off to do some bowling. Now, if you know Abby at all you will think, Bowling? She went bowling? Isn't that a bit loud for her?, and I would respond in the affirmative. But, she's been doing so well lately, and this isn't her first time in a bowling alley, so I knew that she would be just fine. I'm happy to report that I was right. Besides, the skinned knees from falling in the parking lot (what would summer be without skinned knees?), she had a blast filling her tummy with pizza and getting her first spare! I would have loved to have seen that. She spent the rest of the afternoon playing while I finished up some work and ran a couple of errands.

I laughed when I saw this picture, she looks like
she's offering thanks for the smoothie - they do
seem a bit divine at times, don't they?
In fact, we'd both had such a good day that I decided we needed a treat. So, while Abby sucked on the popsicle I'd used to lure her out to the car, I drove to get myself a coffee. Now, it seems that Abby has come to the belief that every drive-thru window offers french fries, because as we pulled up she yelled out that she was hungry for fries. I was able to convince her that they didn't have fries, but she wasn't being put off - therefore it was a coffee for me, and a strawberry-banana smoothie for her.

Although it was pretty funny when her eyes about popped out of her head when she saw all the whipped cream on that smoothie, and her "yummy" noises were pretty cute too as she drank that strawberry goodness, these weren't the best parts of the day. That happened when we got home.

After pulling her out of the car (yes, I had to l-i-t-e-r-a-l-l-y, pull her out of the car by her feet) we ended up on the couch together. She'd told me she was hungry for a hot dog (which she wouldn't have been if she'd had more than three sips of that smoothie - oh well), but I was too tired to get going on that right away, and since I hadn't seen her all day, I wanted to spend a few quiet moments with her. I laid on the couch and she snuggled right up next to me, pressed her nose to mine, and smiled. That was it, that simple gesture got to me. Soon she couldn't take it any more and she started laughing. My first thought was, I need to record this so everyone can hear what a great laugh she has, but then I stared laughing, and before long we couldn't stop. It was one great giggle-fest. I was blowing raspberries on her arm, and then she was doing that on mine - and you know what? I'd forgotten how much they really do tickle. She thought it was so funny to make mom laugh. It wasn't long before our cackling got Bruiser to howling, which resulted in more laughs. You should have heard the noise we all were making - and it was wonderful.

Soon enough hunger won out over fun and it was time for Mom to get up and make that hot dog for her poor starving girl, but those happy moments on the couch were the best parts of my day - so that's what I wanted to write about - because that's what I wanted to remember.

Abby takes picnicking to a whole new level. She puts the
food, the entertainment, and herself all in the basket at once.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Completely Normal

Today I had a wonderful reminder of how completely normal Abby is. This morning Abby had a play-date with her teacher's daughter - her teacher's twenty-something, college graduate daughter. Mrs. C had to come in to school for a meeting, and her daughter, Chelsae was so charmed with Abby when they went on a field trip together, that she expressed an interest in hanging out if I ever needed a day off.

The original plan was to send Abby and Chelsae to the park to play while I stayed home and cleaned the house....but....then I thought it would be the perfect time to meet up with a friend for lunch. Oh, and I'd really wanted to run a few errands too. So, as usually happens, the cleaning got pushed to the side. I dropped Abby off at her school so they could play on the playground and brought her bike, in case they wanted to take a walk. Abby was excited, but as I got back in the car and was ready to drive off, I could see the confusion in her face. It was certainly a, "Wait, what's happening here?" kind of a look, but Ms. Chelsae swept in and I drove off knowing that Abby would have a blast.

It was on those errands that I "had" to do that I met a young man and his grandmother. Well, I didn't actually meet them in the formal sense of the word, but they walked in just behind me and checked out in front of me. They were also the couple that I kept running into as I wandered the store. Does that ever happen to you? Where you keep meeting up with the same people on a trip to the store? Anyway, I got to hear their conversations and each time I had to smile. Let me share them with you.


  • Upon entering the store Grandma was holding Andrew (yes, I learned his name on "our" shopping trip together). 
    • Grandma: Now, Andrew you need to get in the cart - either the front or the back.
    • Andrew: No
    • Grandma: [letting Andrew wiggle out of her arms] Well, then we won't be able to go look at the shoes....
  • Later in the toy aisle Grandma and Andrew were looking at Thomas the Train sets.
    • Grandma: That's Percy, you already have Percy at home don't you?
    • [Andrew still clutches the Percy train and isn't convinced that Grandma knows what she's talking about]
  • While walking past small appliances I heard this behind me:
    • Grandma: Yes Andrew, when we get home you can open up your box and play with your trains.
  • At the check out, I observed Grandma trying to load her cart with Andrew sitting in the back. The people behind her were through the line and out the door before she accomplished that.
  • Finally, while walking to my car I saw Grandma loading the car, while Andrew hopped to the front seat of the car and looked like he was ready to settle in there, instead of having to sit in "his" seat in the back
With each encounter my smile got wider - not because Andrew was a cute little stinker that was giving Grandma a run for her money, but because every time I saw them, their conversations and interactions could have been Abby and me. I felt like I was watching the two of us on a shopping trip. This just drove home the fact that Abby is totally and completely normal - and I thought that was great!

If Abby were a butterfly...

Chalk drawing Abby

Angel Chelsae and Angel Abby (notice the hands on the hips).

Snack-time smiles!