Sunday, September 30, 2012


Over the past few months I've written about how sweet, loving, and charming Abby is. I've also talked a bit about her stubbornness and her will or iron. I believe I've touched on her imperious ways, but I haven't dedicated a whole post to them - tonight I will.

Abby is a bossy bit of goods. I've known this for quite some time, but it really became clear to me this week as I watched her start the day with my students. Each morning before school started she had them jumping to play chess with her, eager to follow her directions in Simon Says, and scrambling to "move over" so she could sit down next to them. I not only saw her bark out orders like the best of generals, I saw the kids follow what she told them to do without question. It was very sweet of my students, but as I thought more about it I realized that she really has a way of getting others to do what she wants, no matter what their age. Whenever I pick her up from the nursery at church, the volunteer will give me a rundown of all that they did in the hour that she was there. It's usually a pretty hefty list....and delivered with a smile. Even when she is ordering you around you can't be mad at her.

Case in point: today Abby'd requested popcorn for a snack, so I set her up with a nice big bowl and she settled in on the couch to watch a movie. I saw this as my opportunity to go take a rest of my own, and so Dad was now officially "on duty". He walked into the room after a few minutes and saw Abby sprawled out on the couch eating her popcorn. He gave her the direction to sit up, so she wouldn't inadvertently choke. She very calmly turned to him, raised her hand, pointed her finger at the door, and said one word, "Out." After her regal command was given she went back to eating her popcorn, expecting to be obeyed. This time she wasn't, and Jason eventually got her to listen to him, but I know he was having trouble holding back the laughter. 

The thing that really amazes me about all of Abby's high-handedness is that she rarely comes off looking like a brat. I don't know how she does it - it really is quite a sight to see.

When I asked Abby yesterday what she wanted to be for
Halloween she told me, "an opera singer", and then demonstrated
what an opera singer looks like when she sings. The finger in her mouth
is her microphone, the other hand is there for drama! Where does
she get this stuff? (Do you notice Bruiser howling in the
background? He SO loves it when we sing opera! I can only
imagine what the neighbors were thinking.)

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Taco Soup

Today is wise that is. I love days like today, the sun is shinning, and it's a cool 65 degrees. Today was made for me. As I was scrolling though Facebook statuses this week I saw a recurring theme - people talking about it being cold and having to turn the heat on. Even though I understand that there are some people that actually like hot weather, I am not one of them. Thankfully Abby and Jason agree with me.

So in a effort to warm up all you cold bodies out there I thought today I would share with you the recipe for Abby's favorite soup - Taco Soup. It's really more of a chili, but since "soup" is what Abby calls it, "soup" it is. This is probably the easiest homemade soup ever, and tasty too - perfect for a "cook" like me. She requested this for lunch today and wouldn't accept a substitute, it was the perfect lunch for a perfect day. 

Taco Soup

1 can corn
1 can black beans
1 can kidney beans
1 can chili beans
1 can water (will usually use the chili bean can to get all those lovely spices)
1 lb ground beef (or turkey)
1 can diced tomatoes (we like the kind with the green chilies in it)
1 can tomato sauce
1 packet of Ranch seasoning mix
1 packet of taco seasoning

Brown the ground beef in a pot until cooked through, drain extra grease if necessary. Rinse all the beans, except for the chili beans. Once the beef is cooked through add all the remaining ingredients. Cook until heated through. Serve with tortilla chips and shredded cheese.

Now, every time we make this (and we do make it often) there are subtle differences, we have yet to make a batch that is exactly the same. For example, one time I got "extra spicy" taco seasoning - that made the whole thing hot, hot, hot - luckily a nice dollop of sour cream calmed it down a bit. We've also added some green chillies and changed up the type of beans we put in. All the cans are typically of the 8 ounce variety, but sometimes I'm feeling a bit more tomato-y, so I pull out the 16 ouncer. Here's the bottom line - I have yet to mess this soup up beyond recognition, so have fun and add what you feel like. 

There are about as many options when it comes to serving the soup as there are in making the soup. I like to crush some tortilla chips in the bottom of my bowl before I pour the soup in. Then I top it with come shredded cheese and a dollop of sour cream. Jason likes his chips on top and then he'll add the cheese. He also keeps a bit of chili pepper handy, incase he needs a bit more zip. Now Abby, she just likes it straight, no frills for her. Give her a big bowl and she's a happy camper. 

So, enjoy, and hopefully this will help some of you stay a bit warmer in this "cold" weather!


Friday, September 28, 2012


Ahhh, was a Friday to especially look forward to because Jason was coming home after three days away at a conference. Both Abby and I were really looking forward to seeing him, as I'm sure you can imagine. A bit after Abby got off the bus, Dada walked through the door and she was thrilled indeed. Too bad that about five minutes later she had her first meltdown.

See, this is the double-edged sword of Fridays. Although it is the beginning of a (hopefully) restful weekend, it is also the tail-end of a long week. Therefore we are all a bit tired, Abby included. She seemed to be on a bit of an emotional roller coaster tonight - up when Dada got home, down when she was forced to wash her hands before dinner, up when Dada took her on an ice cream date, down when Mom suggested a bath afterwards.

I suspect that a busy week was not the only thing working against her. I've noticed the last few days that her nose has been a bit drippy, a sure sign that a cold may be on its way. I'm guessing that she wasn't feeling all that great and that contributed to her mood swings.

By the time she'd had her bath and was ready for bed (thanks to Dada), she'd hit her limit. It took no time at all for her to begin another meltdown. Finally, the only thing that would stop her sad tears was to have both Mama and Dada near by. The three of us cuddled snugly in her bed, and with her lullabies playing in the background, Jason and I set about comforting her into a restful sleep.

It seemed to take no time at all for her to drift off, but as I stayed a bit longer with her I could feel her body still trying to settle into rest. She had a couple of those jerks you get when you're dreaming that you're falling, and her legs were a bit restless, but soon she was still and resting quietly.

I'm hoping that we all will have a restful weekend, because if tonight is anything to go by, we need it.

Today was Hat Day at school. Nuf said.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Pearls of Wisdom

I love when Abby shares things she's learned at school with me. She always does it off-handedly, never  when I ask her what she's learned that day. There's a part of me that likes that because when she does tell me something that I know came from her learning at school, it's like a little present to me. The other day it was a simple song about apples. She spied an apple on the counter and broke into a song and actions that she learned from Mrs. Currie. I couldn't catch all the words, but she knew them. She then told me that apples grew on trees, and proceeded to show me with her arms what an apple tree looks like.

Tonight, after dinner she asked for a "fun" snack. I wasn't quite sure what constituted a "fun" snack, but when I suggested popcorn she went for that. As we waited for it to pop she stood in front of me and began telling me that noses were for smelling. Then she pointed to her ears and said, "Ears, those are for hearing." I told her she was right. She was so serious - giving me information I may not have. So I asked what eyes were for. She told me, "For looking!"

"And mouths?"

"For tasting!" Abby said with a proud grin. We were both laughing outright at this point as the popcorn continued to pop happily.

Wanting to hear more I reached down and gave her tummy a big tickle as I asked, "And tummies? What are tummies for?"

She laughed that wonderful belly laugh I love so much and exclaimed, "For eating.....and burping!" That sent us both into another round of laughter.

At this point her "fun" snack was ready to go. She trotted off with her bowl of popcorn leaving me with a silly smile slapped on my face. Yep, I love it when she shares those little pearls of wisdom she picks up - they are usually enlightening, and always adorable.

This morning Abby decided to wow my class with her "checkers"
playing. According to them, she won every round. Have I
mentioned I have the sweetest students?

Abby decided that they needed some board
work today.

She fits right in, don't you think?

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Teacher's Pet

This morning, as I started my school day, I had the added bonus of having a little helper with me. See, Jason is off to an exciting conference on labor negotiations (woo woo!) and so that means I'm in charge of getting Abby off to school. Since I have to be at school about forty-five minutes before the bus gets to our house I came up with the solution to just bring her with me. Now, she wouldn't spend the whole day at my school, but I could pop out and drop her at her school on my planning period. Since my planning period is right after our first class, this only gets Abby to school a couple of minutes late. It really worked out perfectly.

So, I had one excited little lady with me this morning. She couldn't wait to go and see all of "Mommy's kids" and help out. As soon as we got to school she made herself right at home. She came to devotions with me and while we teachers got some daily encouragement, she found a book about Tarzan. She liked the book so much that she made sure everyone got a good look at it - by nearly planting the book in each of the teacher's faces. Luckily they all know, and love, Abby, so it wasn't a problem.

From there we went back to my classroom to greet the kids. As each student walked into the room she would shout out, "Good morning! Welcome to Mommy's room!" The kids love having Abby around, they think she's a hoot, and so they were pretty excited to see her as well. As kids kept coming in she found a seat for herself, pointed to me, and told me to be the "pretend" teacher. The kids that heard that really got a kick out of that one.

Teacher Abby
Soon enough some of the kids she recognized came in and she really got excited. Friends such as Jane and Rachel made sure to say, "Hi!" and Carter got an extra big hug. By this time it was nearing the start of our day, so I began rallying the kids, while Abby plopped herself down on the stool right in front of my podium and declared that she would be teaching today. My students really liked that idea! Before long she was giving directions like the little dictator she is. I swear those kids don't listen half as well to me as they did to her. In no time flat she had them playing "Simon Says". She had them clapping their hands and running in their seats, and when she insisted they all put their heads down - down they all went. It was a sight to see!

I decided that it was time to take control, and so we said our morning prayer and went right into the Pledge of Allegiance, as we do every day. Abby joined right in. I was so proudly pleased when the kids noticed that Abby knew The Pledge - she did a super job.

I could take a few pointers on classroom management from her.
We then went into grading our math papers and as we did so Abby sat quietly at "her" desk and "took notes". It was pretty cute when we were done and her hand shot into the air along with a few others. I wondered what she would do, so I called on her. She requested that we sing, "Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star" - not quite "math" related, but at least she raised her hand.

Before long it was time for "specials" and so Abby joined our line and walked nicely down to the gym with all of the fifth graders. It was at that point that she started to get stubborn - she didn't want to leave. I finally convinced her that if she wanted to come back tomorrow she would have to cooperate, and with the help of Mrs. E (our Lunch Lady Extraordinare) we made it smoothly out to the car.

I have to admit that it was quite fun to have her there. She certainly is a handful, but just thinking about how my morning started brought a smile to my face throughout the day. Abby has a way of doing that.

"Okay Everybody, Simon says, 'Clap your hands!'"

Ahh, the dream of every teacher/parent, the day when their child can help with grading....

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Caught "Magenta" Handed

Seeing as though this is my fifteenth year teaching I feel like I've gotten pretty good at spotting kids that are up to no good. They don't realize it, but they have a certain posture about them. They also do a lot of looking over their shoulders, or checking to see if I notice them. It's these furtive glances that make them stand out in the first place. Yes, those mischievous darlings are incredibly easy to spot.

Conversly when it comes to my own kid I'm usually a bit slow on the uptake. Maybe it's because I'm at home that I've lowered my defenses and toned down the teacher radar, but I often won't know that Abby is up to something until she is well into whatever she is doing. There have been many a time that I've walked into the room to find she's tied up a selection of her stuffed animals - with my knitting yarn.  There are other times that I've glanced over to see her coloring, only to find out when she looks up at me that along with filling her paper with color, she's also filled her face with color. Now, when this happens Abby will have one of two responses to my, "Oh, Abby, What did you do?" She will either try to hide, or tell me to, "Shhhh." Tonight she went with option number one.

After dinner Abby wanted to play with her new art set, which includes watercolor paints. She used these the other day, and even though she got paint on her shirt (which I have no idea how she did that since she was wearing a paint shirt that didn't get anything on it), she still was pretty good with them. Not wanting to fight tonight I set her up with the paints, paintbrush, paper, and a touch of water in a bowl.

She was quiet for quite some time and I should have known something was up. It wasn't until I spied her through the window of our sunroom that I saw just what she'd been doing. She very proudly exclaimed, "Look at my hands, Mama!" I did and was rather surprised at what I saw. Both hands were completely black. Somehow, with that tiny little plastic paint brush she'd managed to coat her hands in black watercolor paint. She knew as soon as I gasped that it was time to hide those hands - and that's what she did. Knowing there was nothing to do but try to clean them off I tried to tell her that it was okay - that I wasn't mad at her, but I could tell she still felt bad. It was finally the promise of playing in some bubbles in the sink that got her in a better mood. Although we got most of the paint off in a jiffy, she must have begun with purple because we got to the final layer of paint and her hands seemed to be stained a lovely magenta color. This got a bit better with some scrubbing, but if you really look at her hands you know she was into something.

The paints were promptly put away, and I made sure to sit right beside her as she colored in one of her coloring books - with crayons. You might say that tonight I caught her "magenta" handed - and we both learned from that.

She looks so angelic, doesn't she?

Monday, September 24, 2012


Last night, as I lay awake in bed I got to thinking about Halloween of all things. I've noticed that the stores are packed with goodies ready for trick or treating, and I've yet to figure out what Abby is going to be this year.

Year one she made her debut as a bumblebee. She was mighty cute as we trotted around town, popping in to get a treat (that admittedly went to Mama and Dada) from her Godparents and special friends.

If you look closely you can see her stinger.
 The next year I tried my hand at making her costume. I painstakingly traced a poodle and put together a felt skirt. I even knit her a cute little pink sweater to round our her 50's girl outfit. All this work was simply because she'd gotten a cute little pair of saddle shoes a few months before. Yep, that's how I operate.

You have to admit those shoes are adorable!
Year three we purchased her costume. Abby became Little Red Ridding Hood, with Annie our first German Shepherd as her Big Bad Wolf. Once again we stopped off at a select few houses, but we still had a great time!
As cute as this costume was it didn't even make it
through the night before it stared getting holes
in it. Eventually all that was left was the skirt.
Year four we went with an oldie but a goodie - Raggedy Ann. My oh my she was a cutie for her first preschool Halloween party. Unfortunately, she got a pretty nasty sinus infection, so we ended up staying in.

She did get to go to Dada's work to get some goodies
there though!
Since she really didn't get out for 2008, we recycled Raggedy Ann one more year. Once again, she was under the weather for the big night. We promptly got rid of that costume.

Raggedy Abby was just not destined to
leave the house.
For Abby's 6th Halloween we went with one of her favorite pastimes  - she became Chef Abby. All that was missing were the bright orange Mario Batali Crocs. She loved that costume, and since I hemmed the pants I felt like I had a little hand in making it. She got to wear it for yet another preschool party, but for some odd reason we still did not get out to do some serious trick-or-treating.

Here she is giving her impression of a French
Chef - her finger is her mustache and she's saying,
Of all the costumes of years past the hardest to beat will be last year. Jason found this one, and it was by far my favorite. Meet Madeline Abby.

I tell you that costume couldn't have been more perfect. Last year we also went out for our first round of honest to goodness trick-or-treating. Abby and I walked hand-in-hand through a friend's neighborhood and she did a great job of saying, "Trick-or-treat," so sweetly, and always added, "Thank you," after the drop. I eventually lost count of how many people commented on how cute that costume was - although, in my opinion, it took a kid equally as cute to pull it off.

So here we are 2012 and the pressure is on. What could possibly top Madeline? We've got a bit of time left, but I know it will be here before we know it. So, if any of you out there have some stellar ideas, feel free to throw them my way, because apparently this is keeping me up at night!

Sunday, September 23, 2012


Ahhh, Sunday....the day that is set aside for getting things done that I've put off too long, like homework, lesson planning, and laundry. It's no wonder that by the time Sunday night rolls around I'm a mite cranky.

I will say though, that thanks to Abby I didn't really have time to get cranky about anything today. It was a busy day that began with a lovely time at church, where she did wonderfully sitting in the pew next to Auntie Kir, flipping contentedly through the hymnal. She even made it all the way to the sermon before getting antsy.

From there we popped over to the store for some socks. Abby has a way of losing socks like no one I've ever known. I have no idea where they all go. We were down to two pairs, and with it getting colder the sandals aren't cutting it anymore. Since she was such a good girl I also let her pick out a few things - including a snazzy new art set - complete with watercolor paints, which tells you how very good she was!

Throughout the day I did try to work on my homework, but I just didn't have it in me. When Abby would smile her great smile, and look at me with those beautiful brown eyes I couldn't resist. Today coloring and playing cards trumped homework, and you know what? It made for a much lovelier day.

By the time dinner was done Abby stared to wind down, and as she cuddled with Bruiser I was able to get some stuff done, but it wasn't long before she meandered over to me and gave her best fake yawn. She leaned in as I put my arm around her and asked if she was ready to go to bed. A soft, "yes" was all I needed. Hand-in-hand we walked up to her room, pausing briefly so she could kiss Bruiser on the head and wish him a good night. Minutes later she was asleep in my arms.

The fact that I spent the next three hours doing homework couldn't even bring me down after such a good day spent with such a special little lady - Abby is just that good!

On our way to church - she looks so pious, doesn't she?

These two were two peas in a pod today. Abby
loved it when Bruiser wanted to snuggle with her!

You can't really see it, but between Abby and Bruiser is the iPad.
Abby had been using Bruiser as an iPad prop while she watched
some TV. Bruiser loved it, of course!

Saturday, September 22, 2012


For some reason, Abby was pretty tired tonight. I saw it around six, when she came to ask me something. Her poor little eyes were red rimmed and looking droopy. At first I thought she might be coming down with something, but as the night went on I realized she was just plain tired.

Soon enough she went upstairs to cuddle with Dada, and a few minutes later I followed. She apparently  had been quite snugly and so by the time I arrived she was even requesting bedtime, a rare occurrence indeed. Oh, I love these nights - the nights when she climbs into my arms and surrenders to her sleepiness without a peep. I carried her warm little body up the stairs and into her room.

As we settled in and pulled the covers up I told her that I had a pretty spectacular story to tell her tonight. That's when her requests started.

Abby: About Abigail, Mom.

Me: Okay, the story will be about Abigail.

Abby: And Dada, too.

Me: Alright, Princess Abigail and Dada.

Abby: And Mama

Me: Okay! Abigail, Dada, and Mama. Now...

Abby: Pizza! Pizza with pepperoni.

Me: Okay, Abby. They'll have pizza with pepperoni -

Abby: And sauce

Me. And sauce.

Abby: Cheese too!

Me: Alright Abby! I'll tell you a story about Abigail, Dada, Mama, pizza, pepperoni, sauce, and cheese!

Abby: Mooooommm. Stop laughing!

I couldn't help it. She was about to fall asleep at any moment and she still wanted to make sure that I got all of her requests in. She was just so cute, I had to start laughing - and Abby doesn't typically like it when you laugh at her, but then again, who does? Tonight though she did smile and let a little chuckle of her own escape. As I began the story of us and pizza she interrupted me one more time - to tell me she wanted "Goldilocks and the Three Bears". Apparently my story wasn't as spectacular as I'd thought it would be.

What a sweetie!

Friday, September 21, 2012


I have gotten into the habit of keeping my phone close by while I'm teaching. This comforts me because I know that if Abby needs me I'll be able to catch the call. This also allows me to quickly check my email throughout the day. I like to do this for my parents' sake as well. There have been several times when they've had questions that needed quick answers about what is going on in school or about their kids.

Today, during a quick check, I noticed that I'd gotten an email from Abby's teacher. Since the regarding line was "Cute" I took a moment to open it up, anticipating a particularly darling story about something that Abby did. I was greeted with this short message:

"Abby came in all ready for Backwards Day.  She said "cheese" for the back shot.  So cute!"

I was a bit confused. My first thought was: I don't remember seeing a paper about "Backwards Day". That's when I saw an attachment. I was quick to click on it to open it and saw these pictures of my darling:

It seems that she somehow ended up at school with her pants on backwards. I must have been having a slow morning because I wrote her teacher back to ask if it was actually Backwards Day, or if she just showed up like that. I just couldn't wrap my head around how she'd made it to school with her pants on backwards. Oh, I had theories, like she'd been in a really stubborn mood and wouldn't let Jason fix her pants before they had to get on the bus...but, I usually will hear from Jason if there is a particularly rough morning, and I'd only heard good things about the morning. My second theory was that she'd changed her pants on the bus - after all, she's been known to pull her pants off while driving in the car when she was younger.

I needed to know, so I forwarded the email on to Jason inquiring if he knew anything about this. It was around recess time that I got this text from him:

"Cassi must think I drink."

I'm sure that "Cassi" (Abby's teacher) doesn't think he tips back the bottle, but I bet she was very curious as to how this happened. It wasn't until I got home from school that I got the full story. We like for Abby to be independent, and she has been dressing herself for quite some time now, but she doesn't always get it right. It isn't unheard of for her to put her shirt, or the occasional knit pants, on backwards, and depending on her mood it can sometimes be difficult to put her back to rights. Apparently this morning she got herself dressed and Jason just gave her a quick once-over before rushing out to the bus. He said it wasn't until she was walking up the steps of the bus that he noticed that he was looking at the zipper of her pants, instead of the snazzy pockets he expected to see. According to Ms. Cathy, Abby's bus driver,  it was at that point when his face got bright red - she could see his embarrassment. The poor guy couldn't believe that he hadn't noticed her pants were on backwards, but at this point it was too late to do anything about it. It would have to wait until she got to school. I can just imagine how mortified he was. 

I will tell you the whole thing got me laughing, and I'm sure that I wasn't the only one. What I like best about this story is that although we may not always have it together, when we have a flub we usually handle it with humor, and quite a bit of aplomb - I love my family.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Party Girl

Tonight was a big night for one of the Valente family. Tonight we were able to celebrate Nana's retirement. Around about February we celebrated Papa's and now it was Nana's turn. Tomorrow is her last official day and then she will slip, comfortably, into days with fewer schedules and pressures. We couldn't be happier for her.

To mark the occasion we all zipped out for a part of the party. I picked Abby up from school a few minutes early and Jason met us at the house so we could get there on time.

From the minute Abby walked into the restaurant she was in full charm mode. Now, Nana and Papa are pretty proud of their little "Angel" and so Abby needed no introduction to any of the people there. Everyone, it seemed, has been treated to a library of pictures of her, and some, I'm sure, even remember when she was born. Abby spotted Nana right away and ran in for her greeting hug. Since she didn't want anyone to feel left out, she then proceeded to hug everyone that had gathered. Luckily we got there as it began, otherwise we could have been there for a while.

As she made the rounds I could hear people saying things like, "Abby gives the best hugs," and "She is adorable." One lovely gentleman even told me that although he'd seen many pictures of Abby, and that they were cute, they didn't do her justice.

I can't tell you how much I love watching people meet Abby for the first time. It gives me so much pleasure to watch them fall under her spell. Even the waiter was kind enough to relinquish his serving tray (once it was empty) so that Abby could serve us all pretend drinks. As she handed me mine I made sure to thank her as everyone else had as well. She then, so very seriously, turned to me and said, "Sure! Enjoy!", then blithely turned and walked away.

Soon enough the lure of the food won out, so we did get some quiet moments when she actually sat and had some chips and salsa, but once Aunt Keri and Uncle Joe got there she took the opportunity to commandeer them into entertaining her, which they happily did.

It was when I saw her trying to run off with Aunt Keri's scarf that I thought we may want to head home. After all, by the time we got there it would certainly be bedtime. With a goodbye for Nana and a quick stop at the big mirrors by the stairs (and a helping hand from Aunt Keri) we finally got the party girl to the car.

Abby made it a point to tell me how much she liked Nana's party, and it certainly was such a nice evening. I'm sure they are still going strong and celebrating all the wonderful work that Nana has done over the years. So, congratulations on your retirement, Nana - just think of all the extra time you'll have to spend with Abby!

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Fall Photo Shoot

Ah, Fall....I love fall. I love the days that begin with cool, crisp mornings, I love the leaves that start to change and fill the sky with bright splashes of color, and I love the smell, that earthy/spicy smell that seems to shout that Fall is here.

Fall is the one season that I don't mind being outside, and if you knew just what an "indoor cat" I was, you would know that is pretty significant.

Today, feeling that I have been a bit sparse in the picture department of late, I decided to snap some pictures of Abby as we waited for Jason to get home. As soon as I mentioned it to Abby she was game, and ran right to our big birch tree in the front yard - "The Picture Tree". It was pretty funny because she put one hand on the tree, crossed one foot over the other, tilted her head to the side, and stuck out her tongue. She was ready for the photo shoot. Unfortunately I was too slow for her and by the time I had my phone ready she'd moved on.

Tonight I'm just going to share the really great ones that I got.....and at the end I'll leave you with the "gag reel" - the ones that I got of her distracted. Abby isn't the easiest of subjects, but when you get a good one of her it's usually so incredibly sweet it will make your heart melt (or laugh your head off).

Tuesday, September 18, 2012


Tonight's post will be short and sweet - or maybe I should say short and funny. Even though last night I talked about how much Abby is talking, there were still a couple funny things that came out of her cute little mouth today that I though would be nice to share.

No, Mom!

After dinner I finally had enough energy to really put the kitchen to rights. As I was doing this Abby was enjoying a tub-o-popcorn and dancing to "The Backyardigans". At some point she decided that the straws in her drinks (yes, she had two - don't ask), would be put to better use as drumsticks. She drummed on everything, even Bruiser at one point. After one particularly enthusiastic percussion solo she asked me, what I thought. I, being a child of the 80's/90's told her that it was "rad", to which she said, "No, Mom!"

"Yes, Abby. Your drumming was totally rad!"

"No Mom," she said again, "It's not's green!"

It was then that I realized that one of her straws was indeed green.

My bad.


Once I was done with the cleaning I needed to take a moment to rest. I laid down on the couch and settled in for a nice peek at Pinterest on my iPad. That's when Abby, unceremoniously climbed up on me and squeezed herself between me and the back of the couch. 

"Jokes, Mama! Tell jokes."

Alright, I have a few cute ones that we've done before, so I gave her my favorite. "What do you call cheese you don't own?" The real answer is "Nacho cheese!" I've probably heard that silly joke a thousand times and I still find it funny. Since this is one we've "practiced" in the past I was expecting her to come right out with it, instead she blurted out another punch-line.

"Put a boogie in it!" Which we all know goes with the riddle, "How do you make a tissue dance?" 

I did finally set her right and get her to remember that nacho cheese is what you don't own, and boogies are only for tissues, but by the time she got it right she was over "joke time" and ready to move on to what was next.

Since it was a bit chilly this morning Abby and Dada waited
for the bus in his car. Oh, I miss her during the days!

Monday, September 17, 2012

Chatty Abby

I've talked before about Abby's tendency toward chatter. I will tell you that if you've ever had a child who's speech was delayed, getting to the point when they are talking non-stop (and understandably at that) will send you over the edge with happiness. That's where I was today.

Due to a staff meeting after school I had to pick Abby up from her school and bring her to the child care at my school. This was the first time I've picked her up this school year and I was thrilled that she still did the familiar "joyful run down the hallway" when she saw me. It seemed from that moment on she was filled with questions.

Were are we going?

Can we get pizza?

Oh, Mama has a meeting?

I get to go to Mommy's school?

I get to play with my kids?

Yep, the whole way back to school she kept up a constant chatter. Telling me about how she had a steering-wheel "just like Mama", and that she was driving too. She also checked and double checked that she would get to go outside and play once she got to school because I had a meeting.

She was in a great mood and had me laughing as we drove. It got even better when they were lining up to go outside and she spied me in our meeting room before we got started. She ran in to say, "Hi!" and to tell me that she was going outside. With a hug and a "Love you, Mom!" she was off (nearly plowing into the wall in her excitement).

The chatter kept up as we packed up to go home. As soon as we got in the car she was asking for some pizza for dinner, and the softy that I am I agreed that pizza it was. With that "in the bag" she could concentrate on what was going on outside the car as we drove.

What's that?

Oh, a biker!

Look, Mom - another bike!

Who are they?

Who lives in that house?

Who lives in that other house?

What about that house?

And on it went. She even heard that Dada had picked up a few surprises for her and so she also spent some time guessing what it could be.

It's a dollie.

Oh wait, I know what it is....a bus and a bus driver!

We needed to swing by and get Jason on our way home, since he was having his car serviced, so once he was in the car she had a captive audience to chat with.

A it a dress.

Mmmm...not a dress?

How 'bout a black dress?

I know what it's a drum!

She had both of us enjoying her conversation and when she turned to Jason (who'd popped into the back so he could visit with her) and let out a spontaneous, "I love you", I swear I saw him in my rear view mirror literally melt.

Yes, Abby was (and still is) at her most charming this afternoon. I really couldn't have imaged a day like today years ago as we were relying mostly on signs and signals to communicate with her. Even though I had no doubt that she would be talking one day, I never could have imagined the simple pleasure that comes from hearing her thoughts and getting a peek into that curious and precocious mind of hers. Yep, even after a day with a room full of talkative kids, Abby's chatter was just what I needed.

One of her surprises was a jester's hat. She was excited that,
according to her, she now looked "just like Barney!" Yikes!

She also got some alphabet cards - one of which she is using
as a phone in this picture....hmmmm - I guess we gotta work
on that one.

Sunday, September 16, 2012


It seems that around here it was a weekend for fighting. Oh, not with each other (although there was a bit of a loud discussion between Abby and her "parental figures" this evening), but with each of our own internal and external forces.

Jason started the weekend by battling a fever. After some blood work there seems to be no "concrete" reason for his periodic spikes in temperature, but it did leave him feeling pretty miserable. It seems that his veins were doing some protesting of their own as well. He continues to have to go to the hospital daily for IV antibiotics, and last week they took out his PICC line. So, he's had an IV line. The only problem is that the thing (for one reason or another) keeps needing to be replaced. He has been poked so many times that they are now having a hard time finding a spot that isn't mad at them. After blowing out a vein this morning, it took a bit longer than usual before they could start his treatment.

I was fighting my own desire to do nothing. This normally wouldn't be a problem, after all, aren't weekends supposed to be about "doing nothing", especially after a busy week? The only issue is that I am half way through the grad class I'm taking, and assignments are now coming due. I had an annotated bibliography and podcast due this weekend - and no desire to work on them. Along with getting over the lack of motivation, I had to struggle to against a sort of resentment that popped up that I had so much work to do on my "free" time. Luckily I have Abby, and so when I really started to get irritated, I'd just seek out my good-time girl.

I can only assume that Abby was fighting boredom. We had grand plans today to skip out to Nana and Papa's, but with Jason's fever, and my homework we put that on hold. We'd also thought about taking her out to see "Nemo" in 3-D over the weekend - that didn't happen either. This boredom lead to other battles - those of the "I-don't-want-to-listen" variety. We had time-outs, crying, and big battles of wills, followed by sweet moments and "I'm sorry's".

So, here's what I'm hoping, with all the fighting we've done this weekend, we should have a very smooth and enjoyable week - that's my plan anyway!

Today we had some "resting" time. Abby seemed to think it was "play" time.

Yesterday Abby got ahold of her pink monkey.

The poor guy is still recovering.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

A Bedtime Story

Tonight I thought I would share the bedtime story that Abby and I wrote last weekend. I've also attached an MP3 of us reading it for you. So let Abby see you off to dreamland with her wonderful story.


Friday, September 14, 2012


Anyone that knows us, knows that we are definitely cold weather people. As the temperature drops, our moods go up. In fact, after a particularly high energy bill this summer one of my friends asked me if we keep our house at "morgue setting" - yep, that's about it. I would much, much rather be cold than hot, because as I often say, "You can always put more on, but you shouldn't always take more off." Now is the time that I really love - these cool, cool nights are wonderful.

Luckily Abby had always shared Jason's and my love of keeping cool. There were many days when she was younger that it was the middle of winter and she was romping around in just a diaper - seemingly impervious to the cold. Even now, if her room gets too warm and stuffy, she will be sure to wake up several times during the night, asking for something to drink. But when she was a baby there were times when we did "bundle" her up - especially when it came to bedtime.

Tonight as I struggled to find something to write about I sat down at my computer and started looking at Abby pictures (which number in the thousands). I came across some from when she was pretty little and I noticed in several pictures she was wearing those footed jammies that grace every kid's wardrobe.  It was as I was looking at those pictures that I could so clearly remember how cuddly she was in them. I don't often have those pangs of longing for when she was younger, it just seems that each age gets better and better, but tonight as I came across this one I did.

It was an early fall day (much like today) when we took Abby outside, wearing some of those cuddly footed jammies. I don't think we intended to have a mini-photo shoot, but that's what happened. This still remains one of my very favorite pictures of her.

I know that they still make these pajamas for bigger kids, but there is no way that she would be comfortable being so warm and cozy, so sadly, those days are behind us, but lucky for me she still can be pretty cuddly.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

A Balm

When Abby gets in trouble it is heartbreaking. For the first few moments I'm usually pretty irritated, so you could say that my heart is hardened against the very sad tears that come with a time-out or a stern "talking to", but once I'm past that it is so very sad to hear her crying. I certainly have to leave the room when she is in her time-out spot lest her forlorn carriage breaks me.

Today she needed a good talking to, but not by me. I knew something was up when the bus pulled up and Ms. Cathy gave me a frown. It wasn't an angry frown, but a sad frown. Usually I don't board the bus, but today I did so I could get the full scoop while Ms. Cathy helped Abby out of her seat. Apparently, Abby was having a bit of trouble staying in her seat for the ride home. Even the seatbelt wasn't enough to hold her in. She is double-jointed see, and can quite easily maneuver out of restraints. Her shenanigans even caused Ms. Cathy to have to pull the bus over and get her situated again (a move I'm very familiar with). Abby was just not understanding that you cannot be moving around on the bus. Ms. Cathy had to bring out her "I-mean-it" voice, which in turn caused Abby to cry.

As I listened to the story, and Abby's head got lower and lower, I didn't know who felt worse about the whole thing, Abby or Ms. Cathy. At the end of the whole story Abby was letting out sad whimpers as she turned to give Ms. Cathy an apology hug. We then had to wait while Abby took the time to wipe her nose and each eye with the tissue that was provided, before she declared that she was "all better now".

As we were off I reassured Ms. Cathy that Abby was fine, and her response was, "Yes, but I'm not." I completely get that. There isn't anything much more heart-wrenching then when Abby turns to you and chokes out an "I'm sorry." Luckily Ms. Cathy understands that Abby's safety comes first.

I carried her into the house and drove home the point that we just want to make sure that she doesn't get hurt on the bus, all the while assuring her that she was loved and that tomorrow would be better.  Abby listened and agreed to do better, then moved on to happier things. I'm sure she didn't give her sadness another thought, but as I put her to bed tonight I couldn't help but see that little face from earlier before me, and it made me sad. She fell asleep quickly but as she cuddled next to me, with her head on my shoulder I found that I wasn't ready to sneak off to "my own thing" just yet. Where I had soothed her hours earlier, she was now soothing me. Soon enough the sadness was gone and only tenderness remained. Abby certainly is a balm for this soul.

This is an old picture (from 2009), but I thought it went well with tonight's
post. This is Abby sitting in her car-seat with her pants on her head. We'd stopped
for gas and I turned to see this. Mind you, those pants were on her bottom when
we left the house - and she'd been strapped in the whole time. Now you can
see that a measly little seatbelt isn't going to hold this girl down for long.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012


I've talked often about how much Abby amazes me. I've mentioned her will of iron, her joy and sunny outlook on life, and her compassion for others. Tonight she once again amazed me, but it wasn't because of the capacity of her heart, but the capacity of her stomach.

Yesterday I'd promised her that she could have pizza tonight for dinner. We found a great place down the road that offers a gluten free pizza - a gluten free pizza she loves. So, on my way home from work I swung by and got one for her. As she got off the bus I told her she had a surprise waiting for her in the house. As you can imagine she was pretty excited.

She came into the house slowly, checking out all the surfaces carefully for the surprise waiting for her. At first she missed it, but then she saw the box. She was thrilled and didn't even balk when I wanted to wash her hands. Soon enough she was happily eating her pizza and drinking her chocolate almond milk.

Now, it is not unheard of for her to eat two, maybe three, pieces of pizza, but tonight she outdid herself. Granted, the pizza is a small size, and it is thin crust, but when she asked for a fourth and then fifth piece I was sure that there was no way she was going to eat it all.

She did.

Abby ate all but one piece of that pizza. It seems that a long day at school makes for one hungry girl. Now, if she ate like this all the time I would worry, but she has always gone in "spurts" when it comes to eating. She'll go though times when it seems all she does is come to me and tell me she's "hungry" and is constantly requesting something else to eat. Then there's other times when I'm trying to coax her into eating something, and meals are often left unfinished.

Maybe it was a particularly active day at school, or maybe she's going through a growth spurt, but whatever it is, I'm impressed and certainly amazed at how much she fit into that little tummy tonight.

Yesterday Abby decided she needed to wear her
spring hat - even while eating some popcorn.

Tonight I looked up and saw Abby furiously writing away.
When I asked her what she was doing, she said she was "writing

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Guest Columnist

Over the past several months Elizabeth and I have entertained the idea of having a "guest columnist" for Abby's blog. While I found the idea intriguing I have to admit I was a bit intimidated because, unlike Elizabeth I am not a trained author. My undergraduate, and graduate training, are in the "cruel" sciences - i.e. Finance and Management. However, after a particularly sweet exchange with Abby while putting her to bed, I decided it was time to make the leap.

Consider yourself warned...

First, I would be remiss if I did not take a moment to thank many of you for your well wishes and prayers during my latest health pilgrimage, which included a near-death experience (that's a topic for another blog), and a (mostly) all expenses paid stay at the hospital that included such party-favors as pneumonia and a blood-clot. In all seriousness, thank you for your kindnesses to Elizabeth, Abby, and me...

So, I thought what I would do is give you a glimpse into a world few, if any, have ever seen...I'm going to tell you what happens after Elizabeth leaves for school in the morning.

The best way to describe our mornings is: "hurry up and wait". Most mornings begin with Abby waking up and shuffling out of her room with hair reminiscent of Albert Einstein. It is in this instant that our mornings can go one of two ways. Some mornings she will begin by yelling indiscriminately at anything around her, and the first battle of the day is convincing her to go to the bathroom. Mind you this isn't a physiological issue, the bottom line is that Abby does not like to be told what to do. I can honestly tell you that she comes by this naturally - from her mother. Seriously, why else would a woman who hated school all her life become a teacher? It's the one profession where you spend the day telling people what to do. But I digress...

Usually, it is at this point where Abby comes down to the master bedroom and hops in bed with Dad. Depending on her mood, she will either say, "Love you too, Dada," or yell at me to leave her alone. This is when we usually start watching "Rugrats" or "Yo Gabba Gabba", and Elizabeth is either running around trying to get ready, or using her famous line, "I need to leave a little early today," which loosely translated means: "I didn't have time to make coffee and I want a bagel from Tim Horton's."

This is when "hurry up and wait" begins. Whether they will admit it or not, all dads feel a bit of a panic when left in charge of getting kids ready for school.

Sometimes it's a battle to get her to eat her breakfast, but after a little coaxing she will sit down at her table, with her imaginary friends, and have a rousing breakfast discussion. Next comes getting dressed. Again, this is where the day can take another turn, for better - or for worse. Some mornings we wear what Mom has put out for us, some mornings we don't. It is usually on those mornings that Elizabeth will get a note from Abby's teacher, curious about Abby's attire of that day.

Hurry up and wait - again. This time, for the bus.

I like certainty in my life, so waiting for the bus always makes me nervous. With all the unknowns our dear bus driver, Cathy, faces every day, there can be a 20 minute swing in either direction. This is when I sit at the piano bench and start staring out the window for the bus, and Abby begins playing in ernest in the other room. For whatever reason, when the bus arrives it always surprises me and I panic about getting Abby out there in time and before the bus leaves her (which has never happened). This is when I run and grab her, and whatever toy she is playing with, and we all make a run for the bus. As we run to the bus I devise my plan to take away from her whatever toy she brought along, which are verboten on the bus (drumsticks, wooden spoons, balloons, and nun-chucks).

So there you have it, a typical school morning with Abby. For those of you whose toughest choices, or biggest surprises, are whether to wear black or blue socks, or to have scrambled or poached eggs, you have no idea how quiet your mornings are. For those of you who have more than one kid to get ready in the morning, I have no idea how you do it.

Thanks for reading this wordy post and for investing so much time, energy, and love in our little angel - Abby.

Maybe next year, when I am allowed to write my second guest column, I will tell you about our evenings.

- Jason

Abby on a good morning.
Abby on a bad morning.

The jury's out on this one.