Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Happy Halloween

Tonight was the big night.....Halloween! Abby woke up with Halloween on the brain. The first words out of her mouth this morning were, "It's today! It's Halloween today!" She knew that she would be having a party at school and then get to go trick-or-treating with some of her buddies. In a word she was stoked.

I won't go into too much detail about how well she did - even in the cold and the drizzle, or about how she always said, "Thank you!" when she got a piece of candy. I'll just tell you that she certainly had a great time, and knew when to call it quits. After a few individual visits, and then about 30 minutes of walking in the rain we were all ready to grab some pizza and head home.

Abby chose her costume this year. She declared early on that she wanted to be an opera singer.
So here she is: Abby the Opera Singer!

At first she was a bit reticent about getting her picture taken - then she started mugging for the camera. Check out her bootie shake!

We went to visit "Captain America" first!

Then it was on to Uncle George and Auntie Kem. Here Abby
provided a nice show. At one point though as she was singing
and playing the piano, she started to "cry" and said her "song
was broken", she quickly fixed it though and was ready for another

We met up with some of my students and Abby's buddies. One of my 5th graders
took Abby around with him to some of the houses - now that really is a super hero!

Could she BE any cuter?
We hope you all had a wonderful Halloween, because we sure did.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Abby's Army

I'm a big fan of "chance" meetings - even if they typically happen when I'm running to the store and I look like I've just rolled out of bed. Even so, it's usually fun to run into someone unexpectedly, especially when our connection has to do with Abby. Tonight though it was Jason's turn to revisit the past. While out and about he ran into Ms. Susan.

When Abby first started school (five years ago) she started at a wonderful program that was run by the local career center. They had wonderful teachers, and since it was a learning lab, they always had plenty of helping hands. Abby was part of an inclusion program where several special education students learn right along with everyone else. We loved the program, but most of all we loved her teachers and therapists. Ms. Susan was Abby's Teacher Consultant while she was there. Ms. Susan not only helped Abby as she navigated the world of school, but she helped us. She was available for countless questions and concerns, and when the time came for Abby to move on, she was right beside us, giving us reassurances and gushing about our little darling to her new team. Ms. Susan was a big part of our lives, and we've never forgotten her, or what she did for us.

Abby's school pictures from this year. Could
this young lady really be my baby? Impossible.
When he got home, Jason told me about how she clearly remembered us and how when he shared her latest school picture she was so surprised to see how old Abby's gotten. As a teacher I completely understand this. I'm baffled each year when I hear about former students that are graduating,.... getting married,.....having children....I can't believe it. To me they are still the 12 year olds that left my room only a few years before.

Jason running into Ms. Susan made me think of all the wonderful people that have helped over the years, and who have been instrumental in making Abby as successful as she is today. I thought about the therapists that would come to our home each week as soon as we brought Abby home from the hospital - those wonderful people who taught us how to play with her so that she could build her strength and coordination. I thought about the great group of therapists that we would meet at our group meetings when Abby was a bit older. I thought about the superb music therapist that helped Abby socialize and learn to take turns and share with her peers. I thought about the numerous teams of physical, occupational, and speech therapists who have been responsible for helping Abby reach many milestones, and who have prepared her for new learning. And I thought about all those teachers and aids who opened their classrooms, and their loving arms, when they welcomed Abby into their sphere.  She would not be where she is today, without this army of warriors.

We have been so incredibly blessed through the years - as we continue to be. Thank you to all of you who help those that need a little extra support. Your influence reaches far and wide - and makes an impact. We are so grateful for all that you do.

Monday, October 29, 2012

So Thankful

I've gotten some interesting emails from Abby's teachers over the years. They've covered everything from her daily behavior (both good and bad), to what she wore to school that day. Today though, I got one that I hope never to see again.

I was popping down to the office for some quick copies when I decided to check my email. I pulled out my phone and immediately saw a message from Abby's teacher. I did a quick skimming, but when I saw the words, "apple", "choking", and "Heimlich" I actually came to a stand-still in the middle of the hallway. My stomach sank as I read about how Abby had been eating her snack, when she's started to choke. One of her teachers had seen her struggling and rushed over to give her the Heimlich maneuver.  It hadn't worked and so her other teacher stepped in and was able to dislodge the apple that had gotten stuck. I can only imagine how frightening that must have been for them all.

Abby's teacher assured me that she was okay, and that when it was over she'd told them that she was "all better", but Abby's teacher knows us well and told me to call if I wanted to during her break. Luckily, her break was while I was reading the mail, so I made a quick call. She filled me in on what had happened and how God was looking out for Abby, since the teacher who came to her aid first was supposed to be on her break, but she'd forgotten to go. She assured me that Abby was just fine and that if she noticed anything she would let me know.

My first instinct was to rush out and go get her. Even though I knew she was fine, I wanted to hug her and look her over for myself. I'd let Jason know what had happened and he had the same reaction. We were both ready to run to her - for our own peace of mind. I took some deep breaths and began to think with my head (and not with my Mother's heart). She would be fine, but I let her teacher know that I would pick her up after school, I wanted to see her as soon as I could.

I got to school and was able to talk to (and thank) one of her teachers. Abby was perfectly fine, and happy to see me. What a wonderful sight that was when she saw me waiting by the office and she ran down the hallway with her arms flung wide. I held her tight, assuring myself that she really was just fine. I asked her about her day, wondering if she would mention it, and she told me it was a great day. When I finally got around to asking her about the apple all she said was, "Not now, Mom" - a sure sign that she did not want to talk about it.

Tonight I will add a few more "thank you's" to my nightly list, for I'm feeling especially grateful for so many things.

We stopped off to pick up some soup for dinner.
Abby did a great job of "listening" and "helping",
but I caught her here looking as if she was
contemplating an escape.
We were both laughing at this point - hence the blurry picture.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

The Best Day Ever

Today was a perfect Sunday for a family gathering. Since we've had some out-of-town family in for some visits, we wanted to make sure that everyone got together before they left. So, we'd been planning that today we would all get together at the "homestead" (a.k.a Nana and Papa's) for some family time.

This was right up Abby's ally.

After church we headed right out, and somewhere along the way she got wind that there would be pizza there. That became all she talked about, which was understandable since it was well past her normal lunch time.

We arrived and she made the rounds - kissing, hugging, and spreading Abby-cheer, but once that was done she wanted her pizza. As she sat at the counter, happily munching away on a slice of pepperoni and looking out over a room full of some of her favorite people, she turned to be and declared, "Mom, it's the best day ever!"

It was indeed a nice day, it was so good to catch up with loved-ones we hadn't seen in quite some time. I loved watching Abby flit from person to person, telling secrets to Uncle Joe, sharing her pizza with Auntie Phyllis, showing off her new doll to Grandma Marilyn, getting smoochie-bugs from Papa, and cuddling with anyone who offered their open arms. It made me realize any day that you are surrounded by those that love you, truly is "the best day ever".

"Where ever two or three are gathered...."
This morning at Sunday School Abby and her buddy took a moment
to pray. (Leave it to Abby to even do this with quite a bit of flair.)

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Girls' Day In

Today Abby and I had a "Girls' Day In" since Jason had to go out of town for an all day doctoral class. Our day started out great, since for once Abby let me sleep quarter after 7 - seriously, I felt a bit decadent.

We had a great day, and Abby was quite the chatter-box, so I thought I would share with you some of the highlights from our day and discussions.

Are you okay?

Since this was the first Saturday in months that I would be home, without any homework that needed to be turned in, I knew that I wanted to tackle some much needed cleaning. My goal was to start at the top and get the upstairs in order - beginning with Abby's room. While I dusted, vacuumed, and organized Abby was right at my side, telling me what a good job I was doing. At one point though, she told me to, "Be careful, Mom!" when I stood up on her bed in order to dust her fan. She must not have trusted that I would be, because she locked her arms and legs around one of mine to steady me as I worked. What a sweetie!

From her room I moved on to the bathroom. While I was cleaning, Abby was playing in her newly cleaned room. As I was working, Abby suddenly opened her bedroom door and asked me if I was okay. I told her I was and she paused and said, "What are you doing?" I told her that I was cleaning and she then asked, "Does it hurt?" That one made me pause - I must have looked a fright for her to ask that one. I was tempted to tell her that yes, it did - that's why I don't do it very often.

A Weekday - According to Abby

It was when I was tackling the kitchen that she came in to explain a drawing that she did of her and her teachers. She then gave me a run-down on her days at school. Here's what she told me:

I go to Abby's school and Mrs. Currie and Mrs. Davis help me color. Then I write my name and I come home and see Mama. Then Dada comes home.

I asked her if that was all and she said, "Yep." I guess that's a pretty good summary.

Come Look!

Abby was thrilled when Jason finally got home. So much so that when she heard him come in the door she ran from the other room with arms outstretched, anticipating a jump into his arms. We'd already eaten dinner, but he was looking forward to some soup and the warm cornbread that I had baking in the oven. Abby had asked about it earlier and I told her what it was, and that it was for Dada. After the wonderful greeting, she told Jason, "Come on, Dada....come look in the oven!" As she began to head to the kitchen she couldn't hold it in, "It's corn! Mama made it!" She was so excited to tell Jason that I had "corn" waiting in the oven that she forgot the "bread" part of it. It really was too cute.

She had other adorable moments, like when she begged me to play cards with her, read to her, make patterns with her, and even when she climbed up on my lap and helped me practice a song I'll be singing in church tomorrow. We really had a great day. I can't help but agree with something she told me several times today - "Mom, it's a beautiful day!"

Abby diligently counting her pattern.

She did this all on her own - Michigan State
fans will like this one!

So proud of her pattern!
(and yes, we did spend the whole day in our jammies)

Friday, October 26, 2012

21 Things About Abby (Part 3)

And here are your final seven...

15. Abby is a prayer warrior - Abby has always been good about praying. There have been nights when she will spontaneously include a friend or family member in her nightly prayers, because for some reason they came to mind. I always think that for some reason they may need a bit of prayer. She also routinely reminds us to pray before we eat, and always makes us follow the prayer with the clapping J-E-S-U-S song, punctuated at the end with, "Amen! Let's eat!" Yesterday, at her parent/teacher conference her teachers mentioned that every day, before she eats her snack she will fold her hands, bow her head, and say thanks. They both smiled as they said she also includes a prayer of thanksgiving for them. I was humbled by her simple faith.

I caught this one of Abby praying one day - it remains one of
my favorites.
16. Stuck in the mud - As you may know Abby is a fan of Tinker Bell. In one of the movies, Vidia (a "fast flying fairy") gets stuck in the mud. Abby loves that part where all the fairies pull and tug, trying to get her out of the mud. She loves it so much that every time I want her to get out of the tub, I have to "pull" her out, like Vidia. She will raise her arm, let out a dramatic grunt, and tell me, "I'm stuck in the mud!" I will play my expected part by theatrically tugging and "trying" my hardest to get her unstuck. Eventually she pops up, exclaiming, "I did it!"

Typical Barbie legs around here.
17. Barbies are for chewing - For the longest time we had to watch Abby carefully, because if she had a Barbie and was quiet, she was sure to have it in her mouth. For some reason she found the feet and hands of her Barbies wonderful to chew. There was a time when it seemed that all her Barbies had flat hands and no feet. Happily she is pretty much past that phase, but there are still times when we catch her with an extra yummy pair of feet in her mouth.

18. Miss Manner's would approve - Before Abby spoke she had a wonderful sign vocabulary. At her "peak" signing time she had a vocabulary that reached about 60 words. Of course we started with "more" and "milk", but we also made it a point to include, "please" and "thank you" - that was a must. This has paid off because I have had numerous adults tell me that Abby is one of the most polite kids they know. I'm proud to say that there have been times when teachers have come up to me and said, "Out of the whole class, Abby was the only one that said, 'thank you' when I handed out the snack." It is so ingrained in her that when she wakes up in the middle of the night, and drowsily asks for a drink of water, she will say, "Excuse me" if she lets out a little burp - despite the fact that she's half asleep.

19. One tough cookie - Along with being polite, Abby is tough. There have been times when she's banged into something, or taken a spill that I knew had to hurt, but she often just gets up, rubs the spot, and continues on. Several years ago she took a spill that split the bottom of her chin open. We knew it was bad and took off right to the hospital. She did some crying, but not much. She was more worried that I would want to take a look. Even when she had her finger episode earlier this year, she didn't really start crying until she saw me. Sometimes I wish I were as tough as she is.

20. Imagine that! - I've talked about Abby's awesome imagination, but I've really noticed lately that she takes it to a whole other level. Sometimes she will feign an injury, and in the past it has worked for me to put a pretend band-aid on it, now that just won't cut it. The thing is, she will "remove" the pretend band-aid and hand it back to me while she's telling me that wasn't what she wanted. Tonight she asked for an extra vitamin, not realizing that I'd already given her two. I "gave" her a pretend vitamin and she reached in her mouth, grabbed air, and placed the pretend vitamin into my hand. I think that Robert De Niro would approve.

21. Abby changes people....for the better - Abby has a way about her, I can't explain it, but I've watched it and experienced it. I've watched Abby effortlessly enthrall people and brighten their days, but for some people it goes deeper than that. I could give you a list of people that have changed because of her - and I would be at the top of that list. Abby makes me a better person. She has expanded my capacity for love and patience, she has helped me grow in ways I could never had imagined, and she has blown away any stereotypes I held about people with Down syndrome, and people in general - Abby has been the most effective teacher I've ever had. The most amazing thing though, is that I will never know the real number of those whose lives she's changed....and the cool thing is that I know she's just barely begun.

There you have it, 21 things about my lovely little girl. I hope you've enjoyed them.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

21 Things About Abby (Part 2)

As promised I will continue the list I started last night. Here are things 8 through 14 about Abby.

Speaking of The Wiggles....When Abby was 2 we took her
to her first concert. I have to say, they were the best concert
seats I've ever had!
8. If you want Abby to do something - put it in song. - I don't know if it was because she heard a lot of music while in the womb, but Abby has always had an affinity with music. From very early on we noticed how she zeroed in on any type of music that was playing, and once she discovered The Wiggles it was all over. We noticed something else, if we wanted Abby to do something, she would follow our directions if we put the request in song. I can't tell you how many silly songs I made up about things like washing her hands, putting on her coat, going to bed, and any other list of mundane tasks. We passed this tip on to her teachers as well and because they were lovely people (and smart as tacks) they used this trick as well. Luckily, we are past that stage, but that's not to say that we won't do the occasional conga line to the tub when the occasion calls for it - or just because it's fun, for that matter!

9. Abby's Playlist - Speaking of music....Abby has inherited her father's eclectic taste in music. If you asked me a "type" of music that she likes, I wouldn't be able to tell you - she likes them all. Here is a list of the latest favorites - the ones she's asked for in the last month or so.

  • "Have You Never Been Mellow" - by Olivia Newton John
  • "Clancy Lowered the Boom" - by Bing Crosby
  • "I Like to Move It, Move It" - by Prince Julian (from Madagascar)
  • "Circle Dance" - by Bonnie Raitt
  • "Quando, Quando, Quando" - by Michael BublĂ©
  • "Do You Know the Way to San JosĂ©" - by Dionne Warwick
  • "You Should Be Dancing" - by The Bee Gees
  • "It's A Hard-knock Life" - by The Cast of Annie
Yup, Abby is not picky when it comes to music - she loves it all.

10. What's in a name? - We thought long and hard about names. We are both rather traditional people and therefore we wanted names that fit who we were. If Abby had been a boy (which I was convinced she was) she would have been graced with the moniker, Philip Harrison, but since she was a girl we went with Abigail Elizabeth. It's a mouthful, but I liked how it sounded, and so did Jason. I liked it even more when we discovered what "Abigail" means. Abigail is a Hebrew name which means "Father is rejoicing" or "Father's joy", and if ever a child fit that description it is Abby. She certainly is her earthly father's joy, and I suspect a joy to her Heavenly Father as well.

As a side note, my parents gave me the name Elizabeth, but as I was growing up they shortened it to "Beth". Me being me, always thought that "Beth" was just not impressive enough a name, but once you are called something for the majority of your life, it's hard to escape that. When I went off to college I decided it was time for a change - my parents named me "Elizabeth" and that's what I wanted to be called. I got several eye-rolls from some family members (and my brother-in-law still has a hard time with it - my name to him is "Beth-I-mean-Elizabeth"), but eventually everyone toed the line. I vowed early on that I would name my child what I wanted them to be called, that I would never shorten their name. Needless to say we only call Abby "Abigail" when she's in trouble - so much for my stance on nicknames.

Abby mid-"more" sign.
11. Everything can be rewound - This may be one that applies to other children of this generation, but Abby thinks that absolutely everything can be rewound. Whether it is a TV show (because of the DVR), a song, or a movie, she thinks that it is no problem at all to just rewind a favorite scene so she can enjoy it again. One of her favorite words is, "more" and before she could say it, she would sign it. This is generally not a problem - unless we are listening to music on the radio. She just doesn't understand that I can't get a great song to play again.

12. "Please" truly is a magic word,  and Mom is a liar - Abby has come to the conclusion that when she asks for something it should be no problem for Mom to get it for her - this is especially true when it comes to food. All Mom has to do is go to the kitchen and get it - right? There are many times when she will request a certain meal or snack and unfortunately we don't have what she wants. I will tell her this and try to steer her towards something we do have, but she will just say, "Please! Please Mama!", as if by saying please that will make it appear. When that doesn't work she will by-pass me and go to look for herself, because obviously Mom is trying to hid it, or doesn't know what she is talking about.

13. Abby has never met a stranger - Of the three of us Abby is by far the most social. Pure and simple Abby loves people. Whenever we go out she has to greet everyone we pass by, and sometimes those greetings involve hugs. At first I tried to squash that, but then I took a step back and saw how it affected the people she talked to. They smiled, they waved back, and you could see that Abby's joy had washed over them - how could I stop that? What happens when we are out and about, but no one is around? Well, she simply brings along pretend friends to talk with, or she'll greet and say good-bye to things. We've said "hello" to doors and stores, and "good-bye" to shopping carts and cars before.
Now can't tell me a "hello" from this little
darling wouldn't brighten your day!
14. Play it again, Sam - Sleep has always been a bit of a challenge for Abby, we've tried and given up on so many things, but one thing we stuck with was playing music at night. In fact, we found a great CD of children's lullabies when Abby was about 2. She has been listening to that same CD every night since then. That CD has even outlasted two CD players. Last year, in fear that the CD might eventually get ruined (or just give up from fatigue), I saved it to our digital library. She now listens to the songs on an iPod each night. It has become a good "cue" to her that it is time for her to sleep. Also, since it just has music and no words, it gave us the opportunity to make up our own. She firmly believes that the true lyrics to "Brahms' Lullaby" are, "Lullaby, and good night. Go to sleep little Abby...."

Tomorrow I will finish the list, and try not to be so wordy!

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

21 Things About Abby (Part 1)

As I mentioned at the beginning of the month, October is "Down Syndrome Awareness Month". I haven't mentioned it much throughout the month, but I saw a great post today over at a favorite blog of mine, and decided to totally steal the idea - I'm going to share 21 things about Abby with you.

Before I begin my list of 21 things about Abby, I wanted to make sure that you understood the significance of the number 21. See, the typical person has 46 chromosomes in each cell of their bodies. They are arranged in pairs, one from the father and one from the mother, leaving 23 sets of data that make you - you. A person with Down syndrome (the most common kind of Ds - and yes, there are several different kinds) has one extra little chromosome. The extra chromosome shows up on the twenty-first chromosome, and therefore the "scientific" name for Down syndrome is actually Trisomy 21 - "tri" for the 3 chromosomes on the 21st pair. So, in celebration of Abby's unique 21st pair, I'm going to give you 21 things, over the next three days, about Abby. If you've been following the blog you may already know some of these things, but I will try my hardest to find things I haven't yet talked about. Enjoy!

1. Abby was only hours old when she had her first helicopter ride - Abby's birth was a bit of a surprise to us all. She came rather early, and because of that she had some problems breathing. She needed more specialized medical care, so the Survival Flight team from our closest university hospital flew in and came to her rescue - in a snowstorm no less. She was packed up and flown 50 miles away within hours of being born.

2. Before Abby walked on her own she was chosen to be a part of a treadmill study. We had to hold her on a small treadmill and encourage her to move her feet. She hated it and cried the whole time we were supposed to do it.

Abby and Nana at the grand opening of the hospital. We
are all so proud of her!
3. Abby is famous (sort of) - Hearing Abby's story, some of the personnel from the U of M hospital wanted to share it, so they wrote up a wonderful article and came to the house to take some pictures of our little darling. The article was in an insert in the Detroit Free Press and went out to an estimated 400,000 people, as well as to donors and the like. Later, we saw some of the pictures they took in a brochure of theirs as well. As if that weren't special enough, last year Abby was chosen to have her picture taken and put up in a display called "The Walls of Hope" in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit of the new children's hospital that was built at U of M. Every time we go there, someone will ask us if Abby is the girl in the picture, it's usually followed by, "That one is my favorite!" It's worth the few minutes it takes to watch the slide show that I've linked above, Abby's pictures are around minute 2.

4. Abby got her first pair of glasses when she was just over a year old. She eventually got used to them, but there was a time when the last thing she wanted on her face were those glasses. There was even a day at child care when we found them in the trash can - the stinker threw them out!
First day in glasses - not so thrilled.

She eventually got used to them.

5. Abby loves to "set her piggies free" - She has gotten better about taking her shoes and socks off in the car, but there was a time when I would have to go out once a week and "mine" for socks in my car. She would throw them in the back, or stuff them in-between the seats because she didn't want to wear them. Her first bus driver had to re-sock and re-shoe her each time she dropped her off. I think she eventually got to the point where she would take them off when Abby got on the bus - it saved time looking for them.
"Socks? Um....nope haven't seen them."

6. Abby is the most active kid I know - There is no "give-me-a-minute-while-I-wake-up" grogginess with this miss - no, she pops up wide awake and usually with a request on her lips. From the minute she is up, she's going, and doesn't stop until it is bedtime. Luckily, all of her activity does catch up with her at an early hour - anything past 8 p.m. is late for her.

7. Abby's all time favorite toy ever is her mirror. Years ago Nana and Papa got her a vinyl and foam tent thing-y for her to play under. On the side of it was a flexible mirror. When she outgrew the tent, we placed a piece of velcro on the TV cabinet so she could still use it - it is still there and used often. The challenge lately has become how to move the mirror up - since she's grown too tall to see her face in it any more.
Primping - it was love at first sight.
I hope you enjoyed the first seven, tomorrow I promise numbers 8 through 14.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012


I have a confession: I love kid's movies. This weekend, while we were at the cottage, Jason caught me twice watching what he terms as "Abby Movies". I didn't correct his assumption that I was watching Kung Fu Panda and Monsters vs. Aliens because I was missing Abby. I was missing her, but I also just like those movies. Not only am I constantly amazed at the technology used to create the films, but I also love the humor in them - they are so smart! I also like the fact that I know a kid's movie will end well. If I'm going to invest my valuable time in a film, I want to walk away feeling good. I can appreciate the work that goes into a gut-wrenching drama, but let's just say I've given up nearly every Kate Winslet movie ever made. (Have you seen Revolutionary Road? De-press-ing!)

Today was a big kid's move day in our house....afterall, the new Tinker Bell movie came out! Not only is it sad that I knew that, but I was looking forward to it. I know Abby loves Tinker Bell, and I knew she would be excited. So, after work I ran to the store (I had to anyway to pick up a few things....really, I did) and got her the movie.

She was very excited to hear she had a surprise when she got off the bus, and she did give an appropriate gasp when she saw the new Tinker Bell cover - I even had to help her wash her hands, since we had to do them one at a time so she could still hold onto the case. She was thrilled to sit and eat her dinner and watch the movie, but about halfway through she told me she wanted to watch "something else" What!? I had just gotten into it. (Spoiler alert) There was a huge storm coming and the Pixie Dust Tree was in trouble! We couldn't possibly turn it movie off at this point.

I did convince her to watch it a bit longer, and she did enjoy the ending (as did I - since it was a happy one), but I began to wonder if there was enough action in this one to keep her attention. After her bath she wanted to watch a little "Gascar" (a.k.a. Madagascar 3) with "Te Bois" (Inspector Du Bois) who had the "red hair and lipstick" - now that is one movie with plenty of action, at least I know the first hour does.....I've never gotten past that point.

Yep, I'm definitely a fan of kid's movies.....but kid's shows? Now, that's another story....

Abby got her "big book" out and did some reading about
winter clothes tonight - it got me in the mood for some snow!

Bruiser became the valiant steed tonight, but after the weekend he had, I
don't think he minded a bit.

Monday, October 22, 2012


Today we picked up the kids. We knew that Abby was well and that she was having a blast, but we weren't sure about Bruiser...but I'll get to that.

We left the cottage early and soon enough, arrived at Nana and Papa's. One of my favorite things to do is sneak in quietly and then surprise her with my unexpected appearance when we get there - I love that moment when she realizes that I'm there. Today I did that and when she saw me, she had that momentary blank look, followed by a happy one and a yell of, "Mama!" She ran right over Papa (but did pause long enough to throw a, "Sorry, Papa" over her shoulder) and into my arms. was great to see her. Next came Dada's welcome home hug, and then it was back to me, with a question of, "Home now?" I told her that we would head out soon enough and she was good with that.

It was a happy ride home, with Abby entertaining us and Mom and Dad laughing at nearly everything she did. Before long, we were home and as we walked in the house Abby turned to me and said, "Where'd Bruiser go?" I reminded her that while she had a sleep-over at Nana and Papa's, Bruiser had a sleep-over at the vet's.

For the first time we boarded Bruiser. Now, Bruiser is a family man, in other words, he really does not like to be apart from us, but since we were having a weekend away, we thought a few days at the kennel wouldn't hurt. Once we got everything out of the car, Jason headed out to get him. The report was that he was okay, but they could tell that he was sad. Insert knife to heart. The poor guy had a spot on his nose that was a bit raw, and like lots of other nervous souls he'd started biting his nails. It made me wonder if he thought we weren't coming back for him. Abby went right to him and looked him over - once she'd gotten her vet gear on that is. She then just spent some time, sitting next to him, petting and singing - it was just what the poor guy needed. Before long he was out like a light for the rest of the afternoon.

We all settled into the rhythm of being back home, and as I sat knitting in the corner I looked over at Abby, who was enjoying a snack and Winnie the Pooh; Bruiser, who was crashing on the carpet; and Jason, who was mowing the lawn outside the window next to me, and thought that even though our weekend was wonderful, it was so very good to be reunited and to be home.
Weeee! It was a perfect day for rolling down the windows
and letting some wind in!
Popcorn, Piggy, and Pooh - Oh My!

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Time Away

Well, we did it! We held out for two days. See, Abby spent the weekend at Nana and Papa's, while Jason and I had some much needed couple time. We don't do this often, but when we do it is something that we greatly look forward to...until we find ourselves alone. I kid you not, mere hours into our mini-vacation we were calling and texting for updates and pictures.

Now, we did enjoy our time relaxing, and we didn't think about her constantly, but we did have to fight the urge to go get her earlier than planned. The thing that held us back is the knowledge that the time away is good for both of us. Abby is having a blast being spoiled by Nana and Papa, and we are enjoying quite, cartoon free, days.

We are both looking forward to seeing her tomorrow. We love that moment when she realizes we are there to get her. It's just one big happy-love fest. We'll be up and off early - I'm sure.

For now I'll look back over the pictures from her days, and look forward to tomorrow.

It is now tradition that pancakes start the day at Nana & Papa's - even if it started at 4:50 a.m.!

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Friday Phone Dump....on Saturday

Today Abby spent the day with Nana and Papa. It was a day of good and essence, it was an Abby kind of a day.

*technology note: Since tonight's post is brought to you my mobile means, I was unable to comment on all the pictures. Maybe you all could try your hand at captioning. Gotta love technology!

For some reason Abby still insists on using "her seat" when at Nana and
Papa's - even though she really doesn't fit in it any more!
Fresh from her bath!

Gluten free pizza for lunch? Yes please!

Friday, October 19, 2012

Going to the "Bet"

It seems it's the time of year for check-ups - at least for the "kids". At the beginning of the week Abby had her flu shot, and today we took Bruiser in to the Vet (or as Abby called it, the "Bet"), for an update on his shots and a general exam.

Now, knowing those two as I do, I understand that they both get a bit nervous when it comes to seeing the Vet. Bruiser's nervousness is understandable. They poke you, they prod you, they stick you with sharp things, and there are so very many smells - it's no wonder he gets a little anxious. Abby, on the other hand, gets jumpy because she's not familiar with the place. The last time we were there - just to pick something up, she sat in the waiting room with her hands over her ears, crying loudly. So, seeing as though I could control at least one of them with a leash (Bruiser), I concentrated on preparing the other one (Abby) for the visit. We talked the whole way there about what would happen and how Bruiser would be going to see his doctor - and that she needed to be my helper.

She was game, and as we walked in she was happy to greet the receptionist. When I told her to let the lady work she waved her hand at me and said, "Not now, Mom. I'm talking." Well, alright then!

It soon became apparent to me that Abby's idea of help was showing Bruiser how it was done. For example, when I guided him onto the scale (where he weighed in at 90.6 lbs), she needed to take a turn as well (displaying her 48 lbs.). When we went back to see the doctor, not only did she need to "help" examine Bruiser, but she also expected to get her heart listened to and her ears looked at. Luckily we have a very nice Vet, who took the time to give some attention to Abby, even though as she put it, she's not a "people doctor".

Knowing Abby as I do, I understood that it was best to let her stay involved, but when she requested a shot, "like Bruiser", I drew the line. It finally took the promise of pizza for dinner to get her to stop asking to be lifted up to the table, in order to have her "sore" finger bandaged. All the while Bruiser was nervously dancing around and not wanting to be too far from us.

As we left I couldn't help but think about how good they'd both been. That's when Abby made a break for it and ran to the back. I caught her just as she was about to bust through a door labeled, "Staff Only". She was still looking for that bandage for her finger, see. As you might imagine I was not too pleased with that, so we left with me dragging her out, and her telling me she was sorry through her tears. I can only imagine what the receptionist was thinking.

Abby recovered quickly and was happy as a clam as we drove off to get that pizza I'd promised. Even though it could have been a whole lot worse, I'm thankful that these visits are few and far between.

Abby lends a hand with the exam.

She's happy as can be, we weren't there for her!

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Flash Cards

Tonight Abby wanted to play "cards". She has a set of flash cards that numbers close to fifty, and she loves to look through them. She does a super job with the vocabulary practice, and will often give a pretty good showing on the letters (for example, tonight she held up a picture of a cake and said, "K-uh, K-uh, K is for Cake!" I had to correct her, but she nailed the sound, and I was happy with that, especially since she was only looking at a picture.)

Before bedtime she grabbed her stack and climbed up on my lap for some card play. Here are some of the ones that I thought I should share.

The Ones That Impressed Mom the Most

Since the she is my kid, I was terribly impressed
that she knew what this was right away. I am most
certainly not classified as a "Camping Person".

No problems here either. Some might think
she has a slight advantage, having had about
eight x-rays in her lifetime, but I promise you,
she never stood behind a screen that showed her
bones, and she NEVER was this happy about it.

I didn't doubt that she could get "flower" for this
one, but she really impressed me when she immediately
came up with "rose". Got that young men? Abby already
knows what roses are - take note!

The Ones that Had a Backstory

For this one she needed to let me know that
keys were for houses. I almost added, "Cars, too."
But then I though about the fact that neither
Jason or I have an actual key for our cars, so
to Abby, keys are just for houses.

At first she immediately blurted out, "Car!" Then
she added, "Dermyer's car - it's red." Yup!

Wrong....But Close

This she labeled a "rhino" - I'm guessing
she honed in on the horns, and thought
of the first horned animal she knew. 

This was a "dinosaur" - Yes, I could see that.
When I corrected her she said, "Oh alligator!
Okay, got it."

 The Funniest

Nothing though compares to this one.
The correct answer was "elf". She got a little
closer, took a long look and said, "Ummm..
a little guy!" I laughed and couldn't argue,
technically she was spot on.

When we were through with the cards she noticed that "Mary Toppins" was singing Jane and Michael to sleep on the TV. She seemed to think that was a good idea, and so she curled up on my lap and told me to sing along. The lullaby was one that I'd sung to her when she was just a baby, and the moment would have been so incredibly endearing and precious - if it weren't for Bruiser, who was howling along with the music.

That's when Abby decided to call it a night - good call kiddo!

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Bedtime Movie

Watching a movie with Abby is always an experience. She is either singing and dancing along with the characters, delivering lines with the actors, or asking to see scenes over and over. Whatever she is doing it is always active and usually quite entertaining.

Tonight, as we snuggled at bedtime, she chose to watch The Lorax. Since she was tired, she was a bit more subdued than normal, but she did have me laughing. It became clear from the onset, she was going questions route this evening. Despite the fact that she has seen the movie numerous times she filled the first five minutes of the movie with questions like: Who's that? What's he doing? What's her name? What's that? I kid you not, each time the screen changed to a different scene or some new character came into view she had a question. I could barely answer them fast enough.

Soon enough the first song ended and I realized that Abby had fallen silent. I looked down and saw her eyes were closed and she was breathing deep, even breaths. I looked at the screen and saw that it took a whopping 7 minutes for her to drift off. She'd been tired, indeed. I turned off the iPad and laid a bit longer with her nestled up against me.

It doesn't get much better than that.

Now honestly, who wouldn't love cuddling with this sweetie?

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Blown Away

Okay Parents, have you ever had one of those moments when your kid totally takes you by surprise? You know, one of those times when you are going into a situation and are sure that you know how they will react, and then once you get there, they pull a 180?

This evening we had one of those.

We'd had a crazy busy day. I had a doctor's appointment, and Jason had a meeting, so we called on our great friend, Dermyer to pick Abby up from school. Dermyer so generously brought Abby along while she dropped her daughter off at dance class, and went the extra mile by taking her to a park to play while they waited.

While they were doing that, I was finishing up at the doctor, and then running to the store and the pizza place. See, what Abby didn't know was that once she got home we'd have a quick dinner and then it was off for her flu shot. I thought it would be smart to load up on a nice treat for her. I knew that the shot would not go well, and so I wanted to be prepared.

Abby had a blast with Dermyer, and was tickled to hear that she had some pizza waiting for her. After dinner I told her that we had to run out for an "errand" and then we'd pick her up some ice cream. I still didn't want to tell her where we were going. Don't get me wrong, she loves her doctor - I mean she really loves him (there have been times when she's asked to go to "Dr. Tim's house, to visit."), but I figured after a long day the last place she'd want to be would be at the doctor's office.

What do I know?

We got in the car and soon enough arrived at the office. Abby was thrilled. It was then that she told me she needed to see Dr. Tim, after all, she had a sore hand (Huh? News to me!) Since it was after hours, I had little hope we'd actually see Dr. Tim, but as luck would have it he was there, finishing up his day. He was kind enough to come out to say a quick hello. After Abby ran to his arms for a big hug here's how the conversation went:

Dr. Tim: Hi Abby. How are you?

Abby: Hi Dr. Tim! I'm good.

Dr. Tim: Are you getting ready for Halloween?

Abby: Um...yeah.

Dr. Tim: What are you going to be?

Abby: An opera singer!

Dr. Tim: [terribly impressed]! Do you share some of your candy with Mom and Dad?

Abby: Yeah...look at my hand.

Dr. Tim: [examining her perfectly fine hand] Hmmm....does it hurt?

Abby: Yes

Dr. Tim: Is it feeling better?

Abby: Yes.

At this point I thought I would give the poor guy a break so I suggested that we head to the chalkboard while we waited to be called back. Abby's response? "Okay Mom. Bye Dr. Tim, see you in five minutes!"

Before I knew it we were called back. This was the moment I was dreading. Would we have to hold her down? Would there be lots and lots of screaming? Would this bring back the old "doctor fears"?

This was when I began to be amazed. Without any prompting Abby climbed up on the table. The nurse very kindly told her that she was there for her flu shot. "Oh, a shot, okay,"Abby replied.

Huh? That was it? I figured that she didn't understand what was happening, that the tears would come soon enough.

Nope. Wrong again.

Abby was a champ. She didn't cry a bit. She got her shot, turned to me, smiled, and declared, "I did it! I got a shot! Abby's all better now! Now, ice cream Mama." Yep, that was it. She then strutted out of the office like she was a pint-sized celebrity, waving to the office staff and Dr. Tim, telling them she was all better because she'd gotten a shot.

I was blown away. I couldn't believe how well she'd done. We got back in the car and headed right to McDonald's for a yummy ice cream treat - she'd earned it.

As an end note, while we were waiting in the drive through line she started to cry. I wondered if her arm was hurting her after all. I turned around and asked her what was wrong. She pointed to the car in front of us (the car that had pulled ahead) and said, "It's leaving Abby. The car is leaving Abby behind."

I couldn't control myself, I burst out laughing. I tried to hid it, but I found it so funny that getting a shot was nothing to her, but the huge white SUV in line in front of us was pulling away from our car was enough to break her little heart.

I've decided that I may never understand her, but I think she is super-great just the same.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Happy Days

You know, I imagine that Abby's days are pretty fun. She gets to hang out with Dada in the morning, watching TV and playing, enjoying his undivided attention. Then, from there she gets to ride a bus with her buddies, bumping along to school. Once at school she gets to run in the gym, sing songs, play outside, color pictures, wow her teachers with her stellar behavior and letter prowess, eat lunch with some more of her friends, and sometimes have a turn at the Treasure Box. Next, comes another bumpy ride home with her friends, followed by fun time with Mom and Dad in the evening. When I think about it, she has some pretty great days.

Today she got a little extra fun. Mom had a staff meeting, so that meant Abby got to come to my school and hang with "her" kids for a bit. She walked into the building like she owned the joint, saying, "Hi" and giving hugs to kids and adults alike. She'd missed them, and they'd missed her. The kids were heading outside for some fun time on the playground, and she joined right in, bringing up the rear of the line. You could just see the happiness in the bounce of her walk.

Our staff meeting was timed perfectly, because it was over just as the kids were coming in....but Abby didn't want to leave - she had more playing to do. Luckily, a few of my former students were getting ready for their volleyball game and offered to walk Abby out to the car. Yes, that hour at my school just amped up her daily dose of fun. She was still talking about how Anna and Bailey buckled her in as she ate dinner.

These certainly are happy days for Abby.

She looks a bit excited - don't you think?