Friday, November 30, 2012

A Little Visitor

Today we got a little visitor.


After dinner we happened to go upstairs and find this charming little elf sitting so nicely on Abby's bed. 


Abby was pretty excited, especially when she found out it was a genuine elf from the North Pole! The elf came with this note:

November 30, 2012

Dear Abby,

I’ve been talking with your Mom and Dad, and they’ve told me how good you’ve been lately, so I was wondering if you might help me out. I’m sending you one of my special elves - Ellie.

Ellie doesn’t always do the right thing, and she could use some tips from a good girl like you. Like all elves that leave the North Pole, Ellie doesn’t do much during the day, but at night she can get pretty busy, so each morning you’ll need to find her and see what she’s been up to. If she has been naughty, could you please teach her what she did wrong? I know you will do it in a way that won’t hurt her feelings and will help her understand that even though we do naughty things, we are still forgiven.

Remember though, if she has done something nice you need to praise her. She really is a nice little elf, and she wants to do what is right, so the more you praise her the better she will get.

I’ve sent her to you for the month of December, and am hoping that she can learn from you. I will check in with her from time to time, so don’t forget to whisper to her any special requests for me. Then, when I come to your house on Christmas Eve I will take her back to the North Pole with me.

Thank you for your help during this busy time - I know I’ve picked the best person for the job.

Love,
Santa 

Abby readily agreed that she would be happy to tell Ellie "you can't" when she has been naughty, and "make her happy" when she has been good.

Abby then decided it would be fitting to take Ellie downstairs to watch an elf movie, so that's what the girls are doing now - eating popcorn and watching Mom's favorite Christmas move: "Elf". 


So stay tuned this month to see what little Ellie has been up to....and how Abby passes on her pearls of wisdom.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

A Night Out

Tonight we all went out. Jason and I got the opportunity to go out to dinner with some great people, while Abby got to go for a visit at her favorite place - The Carter's. We were both excited for a night out, and as I got ready - Abby did too. She saw my lipstick, and she needed some too. She "helped" me paint my nails, and then needed a touch-up on her polish as well.

Soon enough she declared that she was, "ready to go!" and so off we went. We all had a great time, but considering the fact that she was up at 5 a.m. this morning, by the time I went to get her (about an hour after her normal bedtime), she was tired - and that showed. First she refused to leave, and then when she knew she would be leaving, she wanted to take something with her. She was convinced she would be able to take one of the Carter's games home with her, and would not listen to reason. Finally, we were able to wrestle it out of her hands, but then the tears started. 

As melt-downs go this wasn't the worst, especially since we all understood where it was coming from. By the time we pulled out of the driveway she was back to smiling and the crying had stopped. At the end of the day, after we'd finished our bedtime story, Abby talked about what a great day it had been. I had to agree with her.


Blowing on her nails - got get them to dry!
I caught this one of Abby "planking" earlier this evening. I have no idea what
she was doing. Only she could make this look half-way comfortable.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Cuddle Bug

Abby is a cuddler. She likes to climb up on a comfy lap for a story, or snuggle up next to you on the couch with a big bowl of popcorn, but the very best time to cuddle with Abby is at bedtime, because not only is Abby a cuddler - she's also a mover. I tell you, from the moment Abby gets up she is constantly in motion, so even when she's listening to a fascinating story - she's moving, shifting her tush and trying to get her feet in my slippers....but at bedtime, she's settled.

Tonight I couldn't help but think about how wonderful it is to cuddle with Abby. She was fresh from her bath, and still holding on to the warmth of the water, when she climbed up into bed and requested Good Night, Moon. Halfway through the book she took over, told me to lay down, and go to sleep. Then, she started "reading" the book to me. I laid there and listened to her scratch little voice inventorying the "great green room" and thought about how this is one of the great joys of motherhood.

And so, after the stories I stayed a bit longer, with her head on my shoulder, breathing in her fruity, freshly washed hair, and letting myself drift off for a bit as well.

I love these moments with my cuddle-bug.

Since our ornaments were dry by the time school was over, it was time to paint them.

I did some...and Abby did the rest. Hers are a bit more abstract than mine -
she's much more creative.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Cinnamon and Applesauce

What did I do before Pinterest?....I'll tell you what....not nearly as much as I do now. I've officially lost count of the number of "Pinterest Projects" I've tackled. With everything from teachers' gifts to Valentines, Pinterest has had my back. It even got me (gasp!) sewing! Yes, Pinterest has become one of my major "go to" spots.

It should come to no surprise then, that when I got the "brilliant" idea to make some ornaments for our tree this year, I turned to Pinterest. It was there that I stumbled across this wonderful blog post that detailed some beautiful cinnamon applesauce ornaments. Not only did it look easy, but I knew they would smell wonderful.

After hearing about some inexpensive bulk cinnamon (Thanks, Sharen!), I decided that today was the day. After school Abby and I would make some ornaments. I figured she would love to mix, roll and cut them, and it would be a fun Christmas memory for both of us.

She was certainly game when I told her I had an "activity" to do with her. She really got excited when I started pulling out the measuring cups, an apron, and a rolling pin. There were a few dicy moments when she wanted to take off with the "scrap" dough and play with it in the other room, but once I could distract her with the promise that tomorrow, after they were dry, we would paint them, she was better.

For you brave souls that would like to try this easy (and I do mean easy) project here's what you need:
  • 1 c. cinnamon (which I got on sale at Gordon Food Service - $5.28 for a little over 15 oz. - a steal really)
  • 3/4 c. applesauce
  • wood cutting board
  • wooden rolling pin
  • cookie cutters
  • metal spatula
  • drying rack
  • straw (for the hanging hole)
That's it. You measure...


mix....



roll...


...and cut.
Abby really meant business when it came to the cutting.
See how her hand is a blur? That star was CUT OUT, by the
time she was done with it.
According to what I read, you need to let them dry for at least 24 hours. I picked up some white puffy paint, and tomorrow we will decorate them. My plan then is to write on the back that they were made by Abby and the year, and then attach them to gifts at Christmas. Wouldn't that be a fun tradition? I thought so too.

So far they look great!



Stay tuned for the decorating story tomorrow....that could really get interesting...

Monday, November 26, 2012

Guest Lecturer

This evening Abby and I got the opportunity to be "guests" in a classroom of future teachers. Several weeks ago we got invited to come and visit the "Exceptional Children" class where Jason works. At first the invite was just for him, but he asked if we might bring Abby along - after all, one of the best examples of "exceptional children" is Abby. We were supposed to go last Monday, but then Abby got sick, so tonight was the night.

As it turned out, Jason had a meeting, so it was just the girls. I was a bit nervous. Even though they had given us a list of questions, I still didn't know what to expect, and believe it or not, Abby can sometimes be a handful. So we talked a lot about it beforehand.....and I bribed her with pizza on the way home if she was good.

I may have talked a bit too much about how we were going to "teach" a class, because when we got there, she marched right up to the front of the room, cleared her throat, and said, "Okay, I'm the teacher!" Luckily it was a small group, with a couple of other kids there as well, and they were casual enough to not be put off by Abby's take charge attitude.

Soon though she spotted the teacher putting together some paper crowns for the kids. Abby made the logical conclusion that it must be someone's birthday. When she raised this question, and discovered that it wasn't anyone's birthday, she put a crown on her head and declared it was "Abby's birthday....coming up." She then asked commanded them all to sing "Happy Birthday" to her - which those lovely ladies did.

This is how our "teaching" started - it was more like a crash course in Abby 101. Eventually we got around to the questions they had, but it took a while to get through them....because Abby was busy....very busy.  During the hour we were there she:

  • passed around her daily school work so everyone could see
  • led the class in counting
  • "typed" on the computer
  • traded glasses with the teacher
  • found a hidden noise-maker - and made a lot of noise with it
  • colored a picture on my phone
  • took pictures of the class
  • showed off some of her dance moves
  • drew circles on the board
  • and put on a magic show. 
Now that I think about it, it's pretty amazing that we got any talking done at all. There were a few moments when she got a little stubborn and didn't want to follow directions, but all I had to say was, "pizza" and she was all better. I tell you, bribery works.

Overall, it was a great experience. I got to share some of my thoughts and experience, but more importantly they got to see a truly exceptional child.

"Sing to me!"
This was after the "trading glasses" part and during the
"taking pictures" part - as if you couldn't tell!
Maybe it was being on a college campus, or the fact that
she had just successfully "worked" a room, but she was
quite independent as we left the campus tonight.
Sweet success!

Sunday, November 25, 2012

The Tree

I am completely excited about Christmas. In fact, I don't think I've been this excited about Christmas since I was a kid. I think the difference is that Abby is excited. She has anticipated Christmas, and been thrilled with all its trappings in the past, but this year I know she really, really gets it.

I have such grand plans to keep the momentum going, and for squeezing the most out of the season for all of us - some of which you will hear about in the coming weeks, but today we started with the tree, and that seemed to be all that we could handle.

I had fabulous plans about our tree trimming adventure. We would have Christmas music happily playing in the background, while we put the tree together and actually hung the bulbs this year (having gotten a promise from Abby that she wouldn't touch them). It would be a fun time for all of us as we decided the perfect spot for each of the precious ornaments. There would be lots of laughs and talk about the coming holiday. The plan was to do quite a bit of decorating, while I snapped wonderful pictures of our darling helping to make the house festive. We'd put up the nativity and review the real reason for Christmas, and we would even pull out our "Dicken's Village" which hasn't seen the light of day in several years. Today would kick everything off. That was the plan. That's not how it happened.

It started when we left church. Abby and I had nursery duty and since Abby was the only "customer" we left a little early. I thought by talking about putting the tree up she'd be super excited about getting home - she wasn't. I had to drag her to the car, hoping that no one was around to see me pulling her behind me while she yelled, "No! No!" I finally got her in the car, but by this time she was in tears - at least they were tears of regret, instead of angry tears.

We had another little "bout" of poor listening on the ride home, so by the time we got there we were both in a nasty mood. Thinking we could still salvage out "festive" day, we hauled the tree up from the basement and started putting it together. By the time we'd gotten it all out and were ready to put it together though Abby was crying in ernest. She didn't quite understand that we were setting things up, she didn't want us to "ruin" the tree. She didn't like it when we reached through the branches, looking for plugs and adjusting limbs, and she really threw a fit when we had to wrestle the extension cord away from her with the on/off switch for the lights, she wanted to turn in on, but didn't understand that we had to plug it in first. Here we were: Abby bawling, me telling her to stop crying, and Jason with his head in the tree trying to figure out why some of the lights weren't working....but hey, we did have Christmas music playing, at least there was that.

Finally I decided to scrap it, and let Jason work on the tree while Abby and I went up to her room for some quite time. She continued to cry as I carried her upstairs and I vowed that tonight it would be early to bed. After a little bit she was feeling better and wanted to go see the tree. She was happy to see the lights and played for quite a while in front of it, but I decided that we'd save more decorating for another day....or maybe for when she was sleeping.

After the "storm" she was in a much better mood. I love this picture. It makes
me happy on so many levels.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

A View of Our Day

Well, it's time for another "Snappy Saturday" - or in other words, a day when I have plenty of cute pics, so I might as well share our day with pictures.

We started the day early, but that's okay when you get to go out for breakfast....

From there Mom and Dad dragged Abby to a couple of home improvement stores.

I tell you the people at the Sherwin Williams store are
geniuses. Not only did they have a great little table for kids,
but they also had a whole bin full of pictures to color and crayons.
Abby was distracted just long enough for us to discuss wall colors.

Then it was off to another home store. These steering wheels
kept her occupied almost long enough to look at flooring options.
Eventually Mom and Abby had to go for a ride while Dad finished
looking - by the time that was over we all were ready to go!
From there it was off to an oil change (which I didn't get pictures of) and then home for a bit. It was during the afternoon that I got an invite for Abby to enjoy a play date with some of her best friends. She was super excited - as you can imagine, and on the way there she yelled out, "It's the best day ever!" When I laughed she said, "I'm excited, Mom." I told her that I could tell.

She had a great time and it was just long enough for us to get her surprise ready. For the several years that Abby has been out of her crib, she has been sleeping in a full bed - the same full bed that I got when we moved to Ohio....when I was about 10. That mattress was so flat and droopy that it was nearly on the floor. It was time for a new one. Abby inherited her new bed from her great-grandparents. Now that Grandpa is a permanent resident of a sunnier state, he needed someone to take his nearly new bedroom set - we jumped at the chance. Great-Grandma had such a special place in her heart for Abby, I know she would be so happy that her bed went to Abby. We'd gotten the new set (thanks to Papa and Uncle Joe) yesterday, but didn't have enough time to set it up. So while Abby played we moved things around and set up the new bed. Abby was thrilled to see her new surprise - as you can see from the video below.

The bed is a bit bigger than her other bed and we had quite a laugh at how very small she looked in it.


Can you find her?
And so our day ended...with the princess fast asleep.


Friday, November 23, 2012

Sleepover Tips

Several posts ago I gave you a list of tips if you ever had the opportunity to take Abby to the grocery store. Today, as we drove home from spending the night at my mom's, I thought it might be fun to come up with a list of five tips if you were ever to enjoy a sleepover with Abby.

1. Have a bed prepared.

Abby puts great emphasis on the "sleep" portion of "sleepover". She was thrilled to be going to Grandma's house and get to stay overnight, so thrilled that she barely gave my mom a greeting before she'd stripped out of her clothes and hopped into bed. She immediately pulled the covers up, declared she was there to "sleepover", and started to pretend snore. I was able to coax her into getting her jammies on, but for the first few minutes all she wanted to do was hang out in the bed. So, we said, "Goodnight," and shut the door, leaving her alone. Once she didn't have her audience it wasn't as fun, and she soon was out for some snacks before she actually went to sleep.

2. Have some of her favorite activities handy.

Abby is a busy little bee, and therefore she needs to have something to do. She's not into the whole "staying-up-late-to-talk" thing that is often a part of slumber parties - no, she needs to be active. Luckily, my mom knows this, and she had things prepared for her to do. So when we got up at 4:45 a.m. this morning, we found all sorts of fun surprises waiting for us on the dining room table. Thankfully, Abby was able to keep busy. She colored, played with her alphabet cards, and finally we made some cookies. Still that only kept her busy for a couple of hours....which brings me to my next tip.

3. Plan on a nap after we leave.

As I already mentioned, Abby got up early, and once she is awake there is no getting her back to sleep - especially when she is in a new place and excited to be there. She wanted to go right in to "cuddle with Grandma", which I know means to climb into bed (having no regard to where her knees and elbows may land) and cuddle for a few seconds before telling her it was time to get up. Therefore, I tried my hardest to keep her occupied for as long as I could. It was while I was busy putting the cookies in the oven though that she took it upon herself to get Grandma - because she just couldn't wait any longer. So at 6:30 a.m. my mom was woken by Abby boldly flipping on the light in her room and telling her, "Time to get up, Grandma!" I felt horrible knowing that she was probably exhausted (did I mention she's recovering from a knee replacement?), but she was a trooper. She was happy to greet us and even spent time coloring and reading to Abby. I took comfort in knowing that my mom would be able to take a nap after we'd gone.

4. Bubbles are a nice touch.

Along with having a fascination with beds, Abby loves baths, so if you have her over, expect that at some point you will find her in your tub waiting for a nice warm bath. Again, my mom knows Abby well and so in the middle of Abby "helping" my mom with some of her leg exercises, she came to tell me that Abby had declared it was bath time. Sure enough, I found Abby waiting in the bathroom. As I started the water I noticed that in the corner of the tub there was a new bottle of Dora the Explorer bubble bath. Yes, my mom had anticipated this as well. Abby enjoyed that bubble bath for a good half hour before I grew impatient and decided to pull the plug - literally. As the water drained she stretched out on her tummy and yelled to me, "Mom! Help me! Do something!" Yes, she was playing that she was being sucked down the drain along with the water and bubbles. What an imagination she has. 

5. Be prepared for a quick exit....maybe...kind of...

When Abby gets something in her head it is nigh on impossible to change it. So it was when she decided at 9 a.m. that she was ready for lunch - and that lunch should be pepperoni pizza I knew there was no arguing with her. Since my mom didn't have any pepperoni or pepperoni pizza, Abby declared it was time to go home. So with a, "Goodbye, Grandma!" she got her shoes on and was at the door. She didn't want to hear that I needed to pack up, or take things out to the car - no, she needed to get home to her beloved pepperoni. So, while I gave her some tasks, like thanking Grandma, and telling her how nice it was to have a sleepover, I gathered things and took them to the car. Finally, we were ready to head out, and so I walked out the door, expecting Abby to follow. She didn't. I turned to see her standing next to my mom and telling me, "I'm staying. Bye, Mom." Not phased, I said, "Goodbye," and went to start the car. Sure enough I looked up to see she had changed her mind once again....only to change it back when I came back to get her. As soon as she turned to go back up the stairs to Grandma, I swooped in and scooped her up. She smiled and laughed, and then turned in my arms, reaching dramatically back towards my mom and yelling, "Grandmaaaaa, Graaaaandmaaaa!" - as if I were tearing her away from her beloved Grandmother. Yes, parting is such sweet sorrow... and all that jazz.
First distraction was coloring.
Eventually we moved on to baking....at 6 a.m. - ugh!
Later, after we got home and settled in, Abby got into her
Halloween candy. She thought three suckers at once was a
good idea - Mom and Dad did not.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Thankfulness

I have to say, I have thoroughly enjoyed all the "thankful" posts that have filled my Facebook newsfeed this month. It has been so positive reading about the blessings that fill each other's lives. Even though I didn' t add my written thanks, these posts were a way for me to be reminded of the many, many things I have to be thankful for. As it is a day devoted to giving thanks, it is only fitting that I share some of what I am thankful for.

Jason

There are so many reasons I am thankful for Jason. He is the solid base upon which our family stands. It's Jason who makes sure that all the necessary logistics are taken care of. He has the "glamorous" job of paying the bills, mowing the lawn, changing the light bulbs, fixing the plumbing, and all the other little "joys" that come from home-ownership. I tell you, I would be completely lost with all of that stuff if it weren't for him. Beyond his various chores, that I greatly appreciate (and don't thank him enough for) there are two much bigger reasons why I am thankful for him. First, Jason has never squashed my creativity and spirit. I've had some pretty crazy ideas in the past, and instead of giving me a list of why they won't work, he talks through it with me and helps me create a plan. Many of those ideas have not gone beyond the initial test run (ask him about the juicer sometime), but some have great potential - and I couldn't have done any of it if I didn't have someone cheering me on, someone who supported me no matter what. I can't tell you how much I appreciate that.

Secondly, I am thankful for the father that Jason is to Abby. I have talked in the past about how wonderful those two are together, but it goes much deeper than shared fun. Jason has given Abby an incredible sense of self, and her own self-worth. She is his pride and joy, and that is glaringly apparent. She has confidence in herself because he has confidence (and a great love) in her. He truly is the best dad she could have been blessed with.

Family and Friends

What a support system we have! We have family and friends who will be there at a moment's notice, will be the first ones to cheer us on, and who continually forgive me when I drop the ball (someday I will get better at sending cards - regularly....really....I promise....someday....). The biggest thing though, is that my friends and family always have my back, and they are not stingy with their uplifting words. It always seems that just when I need it, someone is there that will offer a play date for Abby, a girls' night out for me, or even a simple thumbs up that lifts my spirits. I am so thankful for all of you.

Struggles

There was a time in my teens when I was terribly, terribly afraid of difficult times. I can remember actually praying for an easy go of it - as if we all have some cosmic bucket of struggles and once mine was full I would certainly have an easy life. I've come to realize that the "struggles" aren't punishments or finite. When I look back at the times in my life that have been the most difficult, I can clearly see the learning and growth that came from it - and how God has used that to influence my future. For example, I've always found it quite fitting that my most difficult year of school was my fifth grade year, and here I am - a fifth grade teacher (this is how I teach irony). Out of some of my greatest struggles, have come my greatest blessings.

Abby

Quite honestly I am still baffled from time to time that I am a mother at all, but there are so many nights that I look at Abby's sweet face, relaxed in sleep, and marvel that I am her mother. I remember in the very beginning, when we got the news that changed our perspective on her future, thinking: Why us? Of all the people, why us? How very narrow my view was at that point! Abby is amazing...I mean honestly, she's pretty incredible. I have never known someone who can grasp a hold of peoples' hearts as quickly and completely as Abby. She is just one big, incredible, blessing. There are times when I will still ask the above questions, but my tone is much different. Now I marvel when I ask: Why us? Of all the people, why us? because I cannot imagine that I've ever done anything to deserve such a blessing as Abby.

While waiting for dinner, Abby decided it would be nice
to share one of her favorite stories with her fairy friends.
Abby was so excited to go to Grandma's house for
a sleepover, that she barely said, "Hello!" before she
got comfy in Grandma's bed and started to "snore" - apparently,
she took the whole "sleepover" very literally.
Smiles for snacks at Grandma's.
The lady rides in style, complete with popcorn, movie,
and two Snow White's - because you can't just have one.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Sweetness

Today was one of those days that was just really, really good - and much of that had to do with Abby. She has been so incredibly sweet lately. Today, especially she was terribly helpful. We started the day at my school, since Dad had a couple of early morning meetings. By now she knows the drill, and she was all set to play a game of checkers (chess really, but I'm not picky), so once we got in the classroom she walked right over to the game cupboard.

She was diligently setting up the chess pieces when my first student came in, and she immediately invited him to join her. He didn't need to be asked twice and as I walked down the hall for our daily staff devotions, I left her playing happily with my student.

I came back to find that more students had arrived and that Abby was in the center of them. She had been making a few notes in one of my teacher's guides (thankfully one of my students decided to switch the pen she was using with a pencil), followed by some important notes on the board. It was as she was showing me her work that I heard her say, "Look, Mama Valente." Huh? As she called me that a few more times I realized that as my students called me "Mrs. Valente" she was being like them. To her, when I was in teacher mode, I was "Mama Valente" - it made me laugh.

Once we got everyone settled (Abby included), we got right to our math test. Here is where Abby was a huge help. She was the one that passed out the test - and she did a wonderful job too. It was a bit trickier because since I teacher a 5/6 split in the mornings she had to only give the test she had to the 6th graders. She got it perfectly right. There was one extra, so I told her that was her test, and as the class worked silently, so did Abby circling words and numbers - she even put her name on the paper. At one point she also raised her hand and waited until I called on her. She then told me she'd found an "H" - I love that kid.

Soon enough Dada came to get her and take her to her school - where, apparently she was greeted like a long lost friend. Jason told me that he loves to take her to school because so many people greet her as they walk in. He said both adult and child alike waved and seemed excited that she was at school today. I love that.

We both only had a half day and so after I got her off the bus (from which she had a stellar report from Ms. Cathy), we had some lunch and played with some of her dolls. A bit later I asked if she wanted to help me with my knitting project. She jumped at the chance. All I needed to do was pin a few pieces I was working on, but we needed to go upstairs. I told her I wanted her to keep me company. She was game, and as I pinned that wet sweater, she sat beside me unraveling some spare yarn and telling me that she was making a sweater for Papa with it. She was excellent company.

The rest of the night was more of the same, she was just sweetness personified. We all are looking forward to spending time with family tomorrow, and then it's off for a girls-night slumber party with Grandma. We've got some fun days ahead and I know they will be made even more so with Abby along for the ride.

Abby actually let me curl her hair this morning and let me
get a picture of her. What a ham!
Here she is - working hard on that math test.
This is her "post test" - she went right to the reading corner and
got to relaxing - because she had worked so hard, you know.
She finally settled on a book to read. My oh my, she looks old!

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Bookworm

Abby has been a bit of a bookworm lately. It seems that she is always requesting that I read her a book. Today she even went so far as to orchestrate an elaborate ruse that involved a rather dramatic fake yawn and a claim that she was "so tired", just so that she could hear Goodnight Moon. In fact, in the last week the only thing that has gotten her little tush upstairs to her room for bedtime was the promise of reading books, and there were several nights when she barely made it up those stairs because she was carrying so many books to read.

I love that she loves books. The teacher in me is tickled that she says, "Me too!" when we read about Merida's brothers and how they play games - those are wonderful connections. The mom in me looks forward to the moment when she snuggles in close, with her head on my shoulder, as we read about snowy days. The teacher in me is particularly pleased when Abby will use the pictures to predict what is coming next in the story. The mom in me gets all warm and fuzzy when I see her "reading" to her dolls, sharing a beloved story in her tiny little reading voice. Both the teacher and the mom in me are so pleased with this latest routine, because the teacher knows how very important it is for her literacy development to be read to each day, and the mom in me understands how that time together helps us to become closer - that it is a special time for us to interact and enjoy each other's company.

So here's some advice from the mom and the teacher: if it has been a while since you've had the chance to read with your child, pick up a favorite book and find a comfy spot that will fit two - it will be so very good for the both of you.

Abby was back to her normal self today, even requesting
a chance to head back to school tomorrow!

Monday, November 19, 2012

Change of Plans

Plans change. I've learned this many times throughout my years as a parent, and I suspect that this is one lesson that I will continue learning. Tonight we were to head out to have Abby meet a class of perspective teachers, the only problem was that at 3 a.m. this morning Abby made it clear she wasn't feeling well. Once again I watched my poor little peanut getting sick - and I felt helpless.

She is a trooper though, when the storm had passed she sat up and told me that she was "better now", and she requested that we read Goodnight Moon - which we did. She nestled in next to me and soon was sleeping soundly, more soundly than she had the last few nights. She slept in a bit (at least until quarter after seven), and had one more bout of the nasties, but she never let that get her down throughout the day.

Jason and I tag-teamed it. While I spent the morning with Abby, he headed to work for some meetings. Abby was particularly cuddly, at one point laying on my lap while I was knitting. Then, as I went in to do the afternoon in my classroom, Jason came home to be with her. Abby got her second wind at that point, but remained as sweet as can be. Once I got home she bombarded me with cuddles and kisses, and proudly displayed the "freckles" that Dada had drawn on each of her arms, so that she could be like him. Throughout the night she would periodically pause in what she was doing, just to tell me that she loved me. It doesn't get much sweeter than that.

Tomorrow, once again we will be home and recovering, and our class date is rescheduled for next Monday. Yes, plans change, but I've learned from Abby that that doesn't have to get you down - even when you are sick and sore when they do.

Little Cuddle Bug - fast asleep after a long day.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Has Versus Is

Tomorrow we have a wonderful opportunity. The three of us are going to a class filled with future  teachers. The class is called "Exceptional Children" - sounds right up Abby's alley, doesn't it? I'm looking forward to it, as I usually do when I get the opportunity to talk about Abby.

We're scheduled to have 45 minutes of the class period. I figured that most of our time would be letting Abby speak for herself, and charm them all to pieces, but I also know that they will want to hear from us as well. Tonight we got a list of questions that the students came up with, so that we can focus our discussion. Here was question number one:

"When was your daughter diagnosed, or when did you find out she was Down syndrome?"

I have to admit that I had to read the question several times, it was the second "was" that threw me. They had inadvertently hit upon my biggest pet peeve, Abby isn't Down syndrome - she has Down syndrome, there's a huge difference. Now my dilemma became, How do I get that point across in a constructive way? I asked Jason that same question, "How do I tell them that Abby is more like other kids, than she's not like them - that Down syndrome doesn't define Abby, that it is something that she has, but not what she is?" And that lovely man told me, "Like you just told me."

So, in essence, the short answer question they gave us, has now become my main teaching point. This is why it is so important to me to do things like this. I want people to understand that Abby is unique because she is Abby. Down syndrome is just one of the things that makes her who she is. I strongly feel that this is important for everyone to know - but especially those who may one day have an "exceptional child" in their sphere. My prayer is that we can all make that point.

This picture had me laughing all day. She was putting on a
show this morning at Sunday School. I can't tell if she is
leading a discussion panel, or telling the room her best joke.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Snappy Saturday

I've realized something, every time I want to do a "Friday Phone Dump", it's Saturday. I realized today, as I was snapping away, that Saturday is the day I can really get a lot of pictures of Abby, simply because we are together for more time. So, I'm switching it from a "Friday Phone Dump" to "Snappy Saturdays".

So here's our Snappy Saturday.

Abby declared herself "Fairy Princess Abby" as
our day began. Then she stared mugging for the camera.

Getting ready to practice her curtsy. 

This would be Bruiser looking pathetic - as only he can. He sadly
rested his face between my slippered feet and then looked over at
Jason, trying to get both of us to give him some love. He's so neglected, you know.

Abby was watching "Coraline" (hence the tunnel) and needed
a snack, so that came through the tunnel too. This just looks
terribly uncomfortable to me - but what do I know?

I really should have gotten this as a video, because her dance moves
were awesome, I'm sure you can imagine them though.

This afternoon Dada took Abby outside for some playtime.
I eventually came out and we went for some rounds on her bike.
She did a great job, until she needed to go in to use the bathroom -
I can only imagine what the neighbors were thinking as she howled
because she couldn't keep riding her bike. After the bathroom we
went back outside, but she was done with the bike (so was I) and she wanted
to throw the ball around. I snapped this one just before she chucked the
ball - hitting me smack dab in the middle of my forehead - she did
give me a kiss to make it "all better" - at least there was that.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Guest Teacher

I've always thought that being a teacher was a wonderful job for a working mom. After all, I generally have the same breaks as Abby does, and our days line up nicely - when I'm done with my work day I have plenty of time to get home to get Abby off the bus. The only drawback is that I can't be as involved in Abby's classroom as I would like to be. I would love to be the "Room Mom" or be available for classroom parties, but on the days that Abby is having her party, I'm hosting a "soiree" in my own classroom.

Every once in a while though, I have some time off and Abby doesn't. Today was one of those days. I had a half day due to parent/teacher conferences, and since I'd done many of mine throughout the week I was free this afternoon. So, I took the opportunity to spend some time in Abby's classroom. I love being able to meet the kids that she spends the day with, and frankly it's fun to teach a new set of kids.

I planned a short activity where we read a cute book about Elmer the Elephant. Elmer is a colorful elephant who, at first, feels badly that he isn't like the rest of the gray elephants, but he comes to realize that he is special. The other elephants decided to celebrate Elmer by taking a day each year where they color themselves and have a parade. When we were done with the book the kids were able to color their own elephants.

As expected, Abby was quite excited to have me in her classroom, and considering she isn't used to Mom popping in, she did a good job of letting me "teach" her class, without wanting me right next to her the whole time. There were a few moments when I was working with another student, that she really wanted my attention and got near tears when I told her that I would be with her in a minute, but she handled it well and got her composure back.

What I loved most was that I got to see her in her environment, surrounded by the kids I hear about each day. I got to see her following the classroom rules and procedures like a pro, and see just how far she has come. Yes, I love it when I have a chance to work in Abby's classroom, and can't wait until next year - when I can do it again.
Abby working hard at practicing her name.
I was also able to be there for snack time....carrots, yum!
Such a good little student....most of the time.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Days

Today I got to thinking about how each weekday almost has a personality of its own. Monday is a bit cloudy, a little slow to get started. He is still running on the laid-back schedule of the weekend, but eventually he gets it in gear and does what needs to be done (with the help of lots and lots of coffee).

Tuesday is like the middle child, the one that sometimes gets passed by, and is slightly crabby and resentful about that. Sure, she isn't as dreaded as Monday, but sometimes she thinks it would be better to be hated, than to not be thought of at all. 

Wednesday is a middling day, generally a happy-go-lucky guy, who gets lots of praise for being half-way to the weekend. Not much is expected of him, he just needs to show up most of the time. He is completely average, and couldn't be happier. 

Now, Thursday, well, ......she sometimes gets a bad rap for being cranky and crabby - mainly because she's just so tired. The poor girl has worked hard, and it shows. She's worn out and could just use a good nap. 

Then there's Friday. Friday is the party guy of the crew. He's the one that whispers in your ear to go casual (because after all, you've earned it). He's the one that everyone loves, the one that everyone can't wait to see walk through the door. He's the one that has (happy) songs written about him, and his own catch-phrase - TGIF. Everyone loves Friday.

Now, what does all of this have to do with Abby? Well, take a look back at Thursday - the crabby, off day. Yep, that's exactly the kind of day that Abby seemed to have. I got a note from her teacher this morning that had me zipping over to her school to make sure she was all to rights. She was just fine and as Abby waved good-bye to me and trotted back to lunch, her teacher shared with me that she'd been a little off today - she was okay, but just struggling a bit. 

Once again I got that message when the bus pulled up. Apparently, Abby decided to take off her shirt during the ride - and then gave Ms. Cathy fits when she insisted that Abby put it back on. We had a few "talks" about that one.

Then there was the finicky eating tonight. It seems that she only wanted things that started with a "P". So it was pizza, "pippies" (chips), popcorn, and pudding - most of which she ate two bites and moved on to the next "P". 

It was after the argument during tub-time that I finally decided that what the kid really needed was to go to bed, so she was dried, dressed, and tucked under the covers. We did read a couple of books, but it was while I was reading the last one that I looked over and saw she was nearly asleep. And so, by 7:20 my crabby Thursday girl was out for the night.

Hopefully, Party-Gal-Friday-Abby will appear tomorrow.

She wasn't crabby all night, there was a few moments when
she helped Dada with the vacuuming.
This was the first paper I pulled out of her bag from today.
Neatness was not a priority.

But in the end she redeemed herself. This one is "Much Better".

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Our Little Italian

As with many Americans, Abby's heritage is a big mash-up of several different European countries. While she gets some lovely German-Irish genes from me, she gets great Italian and Belgian genes from Jason's side of the family. This came to mind tonight as I watched her munching on a handful of pepperoni while she waited for the pizza she made cook in the oven. I couldn't help but look at her and think: She is so Italian! This got me wondering what other characteristics she shared with her Italian relatives, so I Googled "Italian characteristics". I found some pretty funny sites and lists (the best one was here), and I thought I would share some Italian traits that I found, and some I thought of, that fit Miss Abby to a T.

Family is Everything

When I think of Italians I think of great large families that get together often and would do anything for each other. If Abby could get together with extended family every day she would do it. Abby loves the family, and loves being around them all. She loves gathering with everyone in Nana's kitchen to laugh and enjoy the copious amounts of food. 

Express Yourself

One article I looked at mentioned that Italians tend to be "expressive with their emotions". I think I laughed out-loud when I read that. No one would argue that Abby is not expressive - in fact, there are many times when she may be a bit too expressive. There is never any doubt as to what Abby is thinking or feeling, because she lets you know - usually in a big way.

Pizza, Pasta, & Pepperoni - Oh My!

When I think about the list of Abby's favorite foods I realize that it is dominated by Italian food. I've never known her to say, "No" to pizza, and if you gave her a bag of pepperoni, she'd be a happy camper. She also loves pasta (or "noodles" as she calls them), with Dada's yummy marinara sauce. Yes, her dinner menu is dominated by the food of her people.

Maybe tomorrow I'll share my thoughts on the German-Irish side of her....that combination could be very interesting to explore.



Expressive?.....Umm....Yep!
Pepperoni anyone?