Thursday, January 31, 2013

The Lesson of the Gerbil


This afternoon, before Abby's bus arrived, I sat down at my computer with the plan of catching up on some news. As is my habit, I first checked my email. There I found a note from Abby’s teacher letting me know that she hadn’t earned her bear today - her day had not been “beary” good. 

My heart sank.

We’d been making such a big deal about her getting one every day this week, and earning her pizza and surprise on Friday. I wondered how bad it would be to amend the reward (Best 3 out of 4 - and pizza only?), or should I stick to my guns and hold firm to our original bargain? That’s when the story of “The Gerbil” came to mind - a story that has become a bit of a legend in our family.

Imagine if you will a young Elizabeth, maybe a year or two older than Abby is now. Little Elizabeth had a personality and imagination much like Abby, but with a few differences. One of those was that I was not a big fan of school. See, I struggled. School never came very easily to me - not like it had with my older sister. The area in which I struggled the most was the Language Arts - more specifically.....spelling. My, oh my was I a horrid speller. It is still something that I struggle with today.

“The Gerbil” story took place around third grade, and it must have been around the time of a break, because I came home from school with a proposition for my parents. The teacher had asked if there was anyone that wanted to care for the class gerbil over the break, and remembering that my older sister had enjoyed the company of one of her class pets years earlier, I asked if we might host that darling little thing. I asked if I could have my turn. 

I’m sure that my parents talked and discussed, and finally they said it would be alright - with one provision. If I studied for my weekly spelling test, and if I got all of them right when they quizzed me that evening, then I would be allowed to watch the class pet.

Knowing me, I’m sure I immediately agreed to the contract and headed up to study. Finally, finally I felt that I was ready and so the family gathered (for some reason in my parents’ room) and the quizzing began. I’m sure I was nervous - there was a lot at stake after all, but I forged ahead and after each word correct my confidence grew. The tension in the room was almost palpable as I finally arrived at my last word. I’d gotten them all right, and I was but a few short letters away from my goal. My mom delivered the word and I.......got it wrong.

I remember there was a short pause and then my mom told me I’d missed it. I remember thinking that they were kidding, but no, I’d missed the very last word. I remember my tears and their laughter - not a mean kind of laughter, more of a “I can’t believe that just happened” chuckling.

Despite the fact that I’d studied and despite the fact that I got nineteen right and only one wrong, I did not get that gerbil.

Now, in my parents’ defense, I was not an easy child, and even though I struggled in the world of academia, I did not struggle when it came to exerting my will and milking things for all they were worth (as is evidenced by the fact that I’m still bringing up that silly gerbil). I’m sure that it was quite a struggle to raise me and part of what I needed was to know that what my parents said, they meant. But even now my mom will say to me, “I don’t know why we didn’t let you bring home that gerbil.” And a few years ago she even went so far as to get a little stuffed one and give it to Abby, I think secretly hoping that it would stop me from bringing it up again. 

As soon as I connected Abby’s bear notes to my gerbil story I knew I would be amending her reward. One rough day isn’t going to erase the two great days she already had this week, and so we talked after school about how to be a good listener and that tomorrow she would get another chance to earn that bear, and most importantly that I loved her very, very much...no mater what.




The weather here has been just crazy. We had a snow day Monday,
50-60 degree temps on Tuesday and Wednesday, and then
this morning we woke to more snow!

Tonight Abby came with me to my school for our Science/Curriculum
Fair. She walked in the room and exclaimed, "Look, Mom...Art!"

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Gushy Love


Today was one of those days when I just had all sorts gushy love feelings for Abby. I certainly love her all the time, but today it just sort of bubbled up and spilled over. She was such a sweetheart. It was one of those lovely days when I take a step back and just marvel at the lovely person she is - I love those days.

Luckily, I got plenty of pictures of her, and all of the extreme cuteness she was rocking today, so I’ll just leave you with her smiling face.


This morning we had some extra time - so we painted her nails.
This made her really happy!


Then she decided it would be a good idea to do some warm-ups while we waited for the bus.

Another great day! Two down....two to go!


She means business!



Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Random

I have been sitting here for the last half hour trying desperately to think about what to write tonight. It's one of those nights that I can't quite think through a cohesive story, so I'm going to give you some random snippets from the day.

  • On a mission: We've started a little incentive system with Abby. Each day that she is well behaved at school she will get a note from the teacher. One came home today that said she had a "Beary" good day. I told her that if she got one each day this week, Friday we would get some pizza for dinner and get a treat for her. She's got three more to earn and the note today said she wouldn't get as many reminders as she did today - we are crossing our fingers.
  • Adding Insult to Injury: Or maybe I should say, "Adding Injury to Insult". This evening we had a bit of a battle over some oranges. Abby decided half way through eating them that she wanted to move to a different table. The problem was she'd already dropped several of them so I wanted to help her. She was having none of that. Long story short, she earned herself a time-out for not listening. When she'd served her time, Jason "freed" her and she came to me to apologize. All was forgiven and better, and she ran off to finish those oranges - the only problem was that she smacked into the door frame. We were positive that she'd hit her head, but other than crying she wouldn't show us where she'd hit. We looked her over,  and gave her some ibuprofen and a popsicle. It wasn't until she got in the tub that I saw she'd hit her elbow, not her head - Whew!
  • Organization: In an effort to have our mornings run a bit smoother, I bought a closet sweater organizer. Why, you ask? Well, it has nice little compartments and hangs nicely in the closet. Tonight I put it up in Abby's room and Abby and I picked out her clothes for the rest of the week, putting one outfit in each compartment for each day of the week. Now there's one less thing to worry about - now if only I could do that for her lunches....
  • Who is that masked girl?: After her bath she trotted into her room to see that Daddy was "hiding" from her. She decided that she would scare him, so she reached into the air mimicked putting a mask on her face - complete with sound effects. At this point Jason had started peeking and Abby caught him. "Hide Daddy!" Abby demanded. Since he'd seen her "mask" she now had to use make-up as a disguise, so she took her time putting some pretend make-up on. By the time she was done she decided mom was an easier target, so with a "I'm going to get you, Mom. I'm a dinosaur!" she sprang. Dad got off scott free.



Now if this cuteness doesn't motivate Abby, I don't know what will.

Monday, January 28, 2013

She Said What!?!

Yesterday, as we were walking into church, a friend of ours mentioned how much Abby is talking - to which I replied, “Yeah, she hardly stops.” He’d been watching Abby keep up a pretty much one-sided conversation with his wife, and had been impressed with her clarity and sentence structure. Too bad he had to head off to lead his youth Bible study and didn’t see Abby point to his wife and hear her proclaim, rather loudly, “I like her!”

Today she came up with a few funny ones as well, like this morning when she said it was “so sad” that Daddy had to go to work, while we got to stay home because of a snow. There was also the moment when she was sitting at the table eating her dessert, when she suddenly said, “Excuse me.” Not hearing any obvious reason for the begging pardon I asked if she was okay, to which she replied, “It’s nothing, just ‘Excuse me.’”

This got me thinking about other things she’s said, more specifically something her teacher mentioned on Friday. Apparently, during one afternoon they were coloring purple cows and Abby began talking about changing her picture into beer. She then mentioned cake and mimicked throwing up. I was so completely startled that I didn’t even know what to say, other than, “What? We don’t even drink beer!” The teacher gave me the benefit of the doubt and suggested she might have been thinking about root beer, but I told her we don’t drink that either. Because I was so flummoxed I apparently wasn’t firing on all cylinders. Where Abby had come up with this didn’t become clear until I mentioned it to Jason.

“Well yeah,” he said, “she meant bear.” Duh! That’s when it all clicked. Abby is addicted to “Brave”. Every night we read at least two books that are based on the movie, and a day rarely goes by without her watching at least a bit of it. In the movie Merida, the young princess, gets a spell cake from a witch to change her mother. The cake makes the queen sick and changes her into a bear. Yes, it suddenly it all made sense - especially since whenever I read that part to her I try (rather poorly) to mimic Merida’s thick Scottish brogue, and bear sounds an awful lot like beer

I nearly sent an email to her teacher at that moment - to explain, least she think we are a couple of lushes who down enough beer and cake to make ourselves sick. 

This all made me think about something that one of my education professors once told me. At the beginning of each school year he would tell his students’ parents, “I’ll only believe half of what your child tells me happens at home, if you only believe half of what they say goes on here.” Oh, so very true.




It doesn't look like Abby is buying the whole "100% Perfection" label


I promise it was not that cold in our house today. Abby
just wanted to wear all her snow stuff as she did her craft.

Abby peeks when she prays - I now have proof!

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Happiness Is....


For Abby, happiness is...

...popcorn, followed by bacon, for breakfast.

...Sunday school and church.

...making her own pizza for lunch.

...cuddling and reading books with Mom. 

...art time and cooking with Dada.

...playing cards and Barbies with Mom.

...pretending to be an evil queen.

...making Bruiser howl. 

...eating chicken for dinner.

...having an ice cream cone (with sprinkles) for dessert.

...making rainbows.

...reading with Mom before bed.

...falling asleep in Mom’s arms - before the story is over.

For Mom, happiness is...

...Abby.


Yum!

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Extremes

You could say that today was a day of extremes. It started on a high note, when early this morning Abby remembered Jason's promise from last night to take us all out for breakfast. Abby was so excited that she shooed us out of the house by 7 a.m. Once we got to the restaurant though, things turned around. She didn't like the crayons I'd brought. She didn't want the coloring page I'd ripped out for her. She didn't even want anything to do with the iPad I'd brought. Finally, I pulled out some letter cards so we could play "Memory", and she did like that, so much so that when her food came she didn't want to eat it - she wanted to go home and play with her cards.

Jason and I woofed down our breakfasts, coaxing her to eat at least half of hers, and as he went to pay the bill, I set about gathering things and bundling Abby up....except now she didn't want to leave. Ugh! Finally, Jason simply picked her up and we left. Knowing we were not pleased with her, Abby cried nearly the whole way home.

This was kind of how the day went. We would have fun for a while, but then some little thing wouldn't go just right and the tears would come. For example, it was while I was gathering laundry that I came down to find Abby in a puddle of tears because she couldn't get her pink cape on - really?

And yet we had fun playing with dolls in her room for quite some time, and even had a great time doing some school work. When I think back on our day, there really were more ups than downs, but as is typical of me, I have to force myself to look past the tough parts, and not let them overshadow the good moments of the day.

So, I'm going to do just that, I'm going to think about all the laughing we did, and look forward to more tomorrow.
Letter fun! A is for Abby!


We read "Big City, Small Mouse", a take on the story of the City Mouse
and the Country Mouse. Abby then did an art project connected to the book.
This is her modern interpretation of the busy city. I think she nailed it.



Abby working diligently on practicing her name.

Friday, January 25, 2013

What Went Right


Abby had a rough day at school today...actually, it has been a rough couple of days, but it all seemed to come to a head today. I’ve thought and thought about tonight’s blog post and how to deal with the fact that I’ve got material that I don’t really want to talk about. So, instead of rehashing what went wrong about today, I’m going to share what was right about today.

1. It was Friday - Celebrating that the weekend is upon us is always a great way to start.

2. Caring Teachers - Despite the fact that I was disappointed with Abby’s behavior, I’m so thankful that she has teachers that can tell me honestly what happened - and keep their sense of humor. The email I got after school prompted me to call and talk with Abby’s teacher, and even after a day like today she was able to laugh and tell me how much they do love Abby. That is priceless.

3. Awesome Husband/Daddy - Tonight I needed to go out after work for a church meeting. Rarely do I need to be out before bedtime, so I knew this might be a challenge. When Abby crawled up on my lap and looked soulfully into my eyes and said, “No Mama, stay with me...stay home with Abby,” I was ready to call and tell them I couldn’t make it, but Daddy came to the rescue. When I left they were both wearing animal masks (Abby was the tiger and Daddy was the lion), and Abby cheerfully yelled out, “Bye Mom! Love you!” When I checked in to see how things were progressing, Abby had been read to and was fast asleep. Way to go Super Dad!

4. Cuddles - I had written no fewer than two lines of tonight’s post, when I heard Abby calling for me. So I left the computer right away and spent some time snuggling with her. There is no better way to end the day than to snuggle with a sleeping Abby.


This was from one of Abby's good days at school.
Frosting cookies is always a treat!

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Errands


I've heard it said that there are children out there who will naturally stay by their parents, children who don't wander (or run) off at the first opportunity. I have to believe it is true, because I have seen such children with my own eyes, but that is the extent of my experience, for Abby is not one of those children.

It isn't that she is so much disobedient, it's just that she is curious. She wants to see that shiny picture up close. She wants to feel the products on the shelves. She wants to experience everything. She also has never met a stranger. She loves to strike up conversations with anyone and everyone. It would never occur to her that the woman sitting next to us in a restaurant wouldn’t want to share her fries with Abby (and yes, that actually happened once), or that the man in the grocery store hasn’t been waiting all day for an introduction.

Knowing that she is social and curious, I usually have a death-grip on her hand when we are out anywhere, and this is after me telling her, “Now remember, you have to stay by Mama” about a million times. Unfortunately, whenever I can, I take the easy way out. I wait until Jason is home so I can run an errand on my own. Such was the plan tonight.

Despite the fact that we’ve had a short week, it was still tiring for Jason and me, so when it came to dinner plans we decided that getting some carry-out would be the way to go. I agreed to go get it, and Abby decided she was coming along. I tried to convince her that staying home with Daddy and playing video games and talking about her upcoming birthday party would be more fun, but she wouldn’t go for it. At one point when I told her that she was staying home she told me, “Aww, c’mon Mom....it’ll be fun!” Finally it was when she oh so sadly said, “No, Mommy. Don’t leave me,” that I broke. How could I possibly hold up against that?

So, Abby and I left to go get dinner. I think about it now and wonder why I was so insistent that she stay home. What did it really cost me? Sure it takes a bit longer, waiting for her little legs to keep up and getting situated in the car, but that’s about it. She was super, and the couple of times she tensed up to dash off I was able to stop her and remind her of her promise to help me. In return I got a little cutie to visit with as we waited for our food, and I got to watch Abby smile and talk with some strangers, visibly brightening their day......and since she takes her promises seriously, I didn’t have to have a death-grip on her hand as we left the restaurant. She was too busy helping me carry out our food for her to even think about dashing off. 


Waiting is hard work, especially for Abby, and especially
when there's nothing fun to do - but she was an excellent helper
when I needed her.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Surprise Package


There are many days when I pull up to the house to see a package on our front door step. Apart from groceries, Jason and I do the bulk of our shopping online. In fact, I can't remember the last time I was in a clothing store, a shoe store, a book store,....or any other store that didn’t stock milk and eggs. So, today when I got home I wasn’t all that surprised to see a box propped up against the door. I was surprised to see the company name on the box, though. Things grew more intriguing once I read who the package was addressed to: Abby.

Knowing that we weren’t expecting anything for Abby, I tore right into that box to see who it was from. It turned out that it was a “thank you” for Abby being who she is, from a family friend. Wow!

The box was filled to the brim with stuff Abby would love, animal masks, jewelry, stickers, new cups, and a lovely tiara - all gifts that are perfect for our little lady.

As soon as she got off the bus I told her there was a super surprise waiting for her. She gave me her typical response to this, “‘Tis it?”, and I told her she would see once we got inside. As she looked in the box she let out a wonderful gasp at the treasures it held. We immediately tried on some of the masks, settling on the kitty one, and bejeweled her with a ring and the tiara. Soon enough the mask was put aside so she could play with her stickers and eat her dinner, but the ring and tiara remained, after she added one of her princess dresses to match, of course.

Every so often she would come in to look at her new box of things and tell me, “Oh, Mom, I love the surprises!”, and I couldn’t help but agree. So thank you Mrs. P - for being you, and so generously filling Abby’s little heart with joy today.


Now that's one cute kitty!

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Lazy Day

Today was our first snow day....well, actually it was more like a "cold weather" day. Since the temperatures were below zero (-3℉) and the wind chill even worse (-14℉) school was a no go. It had snowed, only a few inches, but at those temperatures the road treatments don't really do a whole lot. So, Abby and I got a bonus day.

Now, you would think with a gift such as this we would be very productive, or at the lease do something fun like bake a pan of brownies or paint watercolors....you would think that, wouldn't you? In reality we got very little accomplished (if anything at all) and spent the day being bums. Neither of us got out of our jammies (although I did get a shower and Abby got a bath - we just put jammies right back on), and we spent the day lounging - as much as Abby will lounge. We did play with some dolls, read some books, and at one point we contemplated getting out the play dough - but that never actually happened. The rousing tickle fight we had about mid afternoon was the most we could muster, in the way of activity.

Tonight, before we went up to read books for bedtime, Abby told me that she was "so excited" about going to school tomorrow. I don't doubt that. Abby just doesn't enjoy the occasional "purpose-less" day, like I do. Despite our ennui we both ended the day tired. Abby was ready for bed early, and fell asleep before 7 p.m., and I won't be far behind. I suppose an early bedtime is the perfect way to end this lazy day.


Can you even find Abby?

How about now?

Here she is explaining every detail of her drawing to me.
She looks pretty serious, doesn't she?

Monday, January 21, 2013

Music Appreciation


I have been threatening for some time now to subject my class to a music appreciation course. There have been times when I've mentioned a song or an artist that I feel they should not only know, but deeply appreciate. Call me crazy, but this generation should know greats such as Sanatra, The Beach Boys, James Taylor, Billy Joel, Louis Armstrong, The Supremes, The Bee Gees, ABBA....and many more. 

I have been so thankful for Jason's eclectic taste in music, because Abby has been exposed to so many of these greats. I noticed recently though that some of the great songs she knows, she recognizes from a few of her favorite movies. Last week, when we went out to eat, “Le Freak” came on over the speaker. Abby immediately gasped and said, “I know what it is!” When I asked her what she meant she said, “It’s from Toy Story,” and then jived her way up to the cashier. 

This morning she requested some opera to listen to. The closest I could get on my phone was some Andrea Bocelli. I chose one of my favorites of his, “Con Te Partiro”. As soon as it came on she said, “Oh, Madagascar...Inspector DuBois!” After I got over my slight horror that she only knew such a great song from a silly movie, I became impressed that she remembered it at all. 

From there she requested “The Inspector DuBois” song. In Madagascar 3 there is an absurd character named Inspector DuBois, a crazed French animal control officer. Abby is fascinated by her. In one scene DuBois sings a French song with great emotion, that rouses her “troops” to once again track the animals she’s hunting. Abby wanted to hear that song. I found it easily on iTunes and within minutes she was warbling out the tune with great feeling.

After Jason got home from work, she wanted to show off her talent and get Daddy’s approval. By the fifth time she sang with all her might, we were ready to call it quits - even if she wasn’t. 

This evening, as Abby was settling in for sleep, she requested that song. Not having my phone I told her that I would hum the song for her. I’d heard it enough, so I figured I could at least do that, but it wasn’t enough for her. She wanted to hear the song, so I set about faking my way through the words of the song. Along with a lot of “non”’s I think I threw in a couple of Coco Chanel’s and a Champs Elysees. My high school French teacher would be horrified at the little French I remembered. Abby bought it though and was soon fast asleep.

I guess in the end I’m happy she is being exposed to great songs, I just wish a freaky bear and a nutty lemur didn’t come to her mind when she heard them. Maybe I should plan that music appreciation class after all - but for Abby instead.


She's ready for some serious singing!

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Empathy

Abby has always displayed a fair share of empathy, even going so far as to sympathy cough or sneeze when those around her do. Today though, I saw a whole new level of Abby's empathy.

This afternoon we traveled out to see Nana and Papa. A couple of weeks ago, Papa had a total knee replacement. Today was the first time that Abby has seen Papa since his surgery. She was so excited to head up the stairs once we got there and help Nana play nurse, but once she got a good look at Papa, with his leg in the machine he needs to help exercise his leg, she backed right out of the room.

She didn't like seeing Papa laid up and immediately began complaining about her own leg hurting. She stood in the hallway telling us she needed something for her hurt leg. She eventually laid right down where she was and prop her leg against the door frame.

We kept trying to get her in to see Papa, but she would have none of that. Nana was kind enough to find a wrap for her leg, and she did make it to she bed in the spare room, but that was about it. We left her "resting" and went downstairs.

It wasn't long before we heard her hobbling down the stairs, telling us she was still hurt. Nana then so kindly set her up in Papa's chair, with her leg propped up. I couldn't help but be amazed at the fact that she sat in that chair for a good 40 minutes, not moving and watching T.V. Abby rarely sits still for 15 minutes, let alone 40.

Soon enough she was up and ready to play - proclaiming that she was "all good". We had a nice visit, and Papa eventually came down to hang with us as well, but I think we can safely say that Abby won't be adding "nurse" to her list of future occupations. She probably would end up pushing her patients out of their beds, so that she could take care of her own "pains".

Like most invalids Abby didn't want her picture taken.


If I didn't know better, I would actually think she does have
something wrong with her leg.


Saturday, January 19, 2013

Saturday School

Today we began our "Saturday School Adventure". When I told Abby that we were having school she was a little confused. She wanted to know if we were going to "Mommy's school", and then wanted to know if she was going to see Mrs. C. I finally told her it was like a game - then she was all set to go.

First, we got right to practicing writing. Every day Abby comes home with a paper that shows she's practiced her name, so I made up a sheet she could use at home. Have I mentioned how cute she is when she is writing her name?


As she writes she will talk her way through the letters of her name.
"Down, down - cross it in the middle." = A
"Down and around, down and around." = bb
"Down, up, and a monkey tail." = y
It's adorable.
From there we moved on to some math papers. Even though Abby knows 1 and 2, I figured it would be good to start at the beginning - so that's what we did. Luckily, I had some star stickers on hand as well.


Next up was a field trip - to the fabric store. Abby and I had come up with a new costume idea, so we needed some materials.


For our "theater class" portion of the day we needed a good costume. Introducing....Tinker Bell. Abby has done quite a bit of research for this roll, so she was ready to go.


We then spent some time cuddling and reading books - a perfect way to practice our reading skills.


Next up was some good old fashioned sensory play. We pulled out that lump of play dough we made last weekend (which was still wonderfully "squishy"), some cookie cutters, and a rolling pin and got playing. 


Finally, we ended the day with some more math, but in a fun way. We played a rousing game of "Hi Ho Cherry O!" - and I was soundly trounced by my little angel.


I'd say that "Saturday School" was a great success.

Friday, January 18, 2013

My Bossy Elephant

This evening I was reminded of two of Abby's "talents": her ability to boss me around and her incredible memory.

After dinner, while Abby enjoyed some Tinker Bell, I sat down like a good little teacher and got to work grading some tests. Since it was a science test, and most of the answers were objective, I was also able to watch one of my favorite shows on my computer. With a mere 15 minutes left, Abby came to me and told me it was bedtime...but then she got distracted with my papers and decided this might be the perfect time to sit down and pen a note to her teachers. Great! I thought. This would allow me to finish up my show and then we could both head up to bed.

Even though I had my headphones on, I could still hear her as she "wrote", telling her teachers how proud she was of them and how much she loved them. It was really quite sweet, but soon enough she was done. I fully realized the irony as I asked for five more minutes to watch my show, and she told me, "No, do computer tomorrow! Bedtime now!"

With a sigh, I closed my computer and let out a loud, "Let's go!" while I stood up. She stopped, turned to me and said, "No, sit down." Curious to see what this was all about, I did. She then primly said, "Good. Now, quietly." I tried really hard to swallow my laughter as I then whispered, "Let's go." She gave me a nod and then deigned to follow me upstairs.

I'm now adding "General" to her list of potential future occupations.

Abby has the memory of an elephant. This afternoon, as I met the bus, the first words out of her mouth to me were, "Mom! Ballet class!" Thinking that she was playing some fun ballet game with Daddy this morning after I left, I figured that she wanted to put on her "ballet dress" and dance around once we got in the house. It wasn't until this evening, as I was putting her to bed, that I found out what that was really all about.

Jason wasn't able to be home this evening, since tonight he has class (doctoral class mind you...), but on a break he was able to send me a couple of texts. It was through the texts that I found out he'd told Abby that if she were a good girl, he would talk to me about getting her back into ballet class. Apparently, she didn't forget that little promise and wanted to check with me as soon as she saw me. Time and time again I am amazed at the things she will remember - things I don't even remember until she mentions them. Maybe I should start dictating my "To-Do" list to her.

Since she's in bed I can start that tomorrow....if I remember, that is.

She had lots of encouraging words for her teachers tonight.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Nightly Reading

Abby likes to read, and because of that it is something that has become part of our nightly routine for some time now. There are some times when she will actually let out a huge fake yawn and tell me she is "so tired", just so we can head upstairs and read some books.

Now, she seems to go through phases. For a while she will like to read actual "real" books, and so we turn her little light on and get out her favorites: Brave: Oh Brother!, The Snowy Day, and Goodnight Moon. But lately she's been going digital. She wants to read her books on the iPad (or as she calls it, the "Hi" Pad).

It has been a while since the last time she's wanted to do digital reading, and I've noticed a few things. First, she pays more attention to the story. Before she would really only focus on the fun things she could make the characters in the books do, but tonight she actually waited until the page was read. I like this - I like this a whole lot. Second, she sometimes wants me to read it, she sometimes wants "The Voice" to read it, and she sometimes wants to read it herself. When I read she will, at times, get rather demanding about how I do it. For example, some nights she will tell me, "Quiet!" This means that I am to whisper the words. Some nights she will tell me, "Louder!", and on nights like tonight, when she wants me to read with "The Voice", she will suddenly turn to me and say, "Not you," letting me know that I'm done for the night. Finally, for some reason she is more likely to fall asleep during a digital book, than a regular book. She's fallen asleep during both, but I think the fact that the books on the iPad usually have music to go with them is what makes the difference. Tonight, as we were reading Brave, I realized that I had even dozed off. When I saw that we'd come to the end of the story, I looked over and noticed Abby sleeping soundly next to me - this is what happens at the end of a week, we can't even get through a book without falling asleep.

It's a good thing that I've got a book order coming in soon...we're due for some new material.



Daddy surprised Abby by picking her up from school today.
It was sunny out and she needed some sun glasses, so Daddy
generously gave her his. It didn't seem to matter that she
had them on upside down.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Mommy/Daughter Date

Sometimes plans change, and that is a-okay. If Abby has taught me anything, it is to roll with the punches. We were supposed to head out to dinner tonight with a good friend, and then Abby would go home, as Michelle and I continued on to a movie....but, Michelle's husband was not feeling well, so as she shuttled kids, and doused her household in Lysol, Abby and I decided that it might be fun to have a mommy/daughter date instead.

I found out about the change in plans as I picked Abby up from school this afternoon. I figured it would be easier to have an early dinner, and since we were already out we might as well head right over to the restaurant. So, we set out - after a quick trip to the dollar store for some crayons and coloring books. I figured that we needed something to do while we waited for our food, and what's better than coloring? No matter how old I get, I still get excited to get a new coloring book and some fresh crayons. Abby wasn't the only one looking forward to the coloring we would do while we waited.

Abby was super. She loved the murals on the walls and ceiling, and couldn't help exclaiming, "Wow! Look at that!" every now and again. She certainly got a kick out of the music they had playing - as did I when I caught her doing her version of the "Hitchhiker Dance" to The Bee Gees' "Jive Talkin'" (I mean really, how else are you supposed to dance to that song?). We both had a good time as she dictated to me a whole cast of characters she wanted me to draw on the back of her placemat. We really had a very nice time.

She ate like a champ and then boogied her way up to the front to pay our bill. I was feeling very good and confident, because things had been going so smoothly, and so when she showed the least little interest in the little train ride that was in the middle of the mall I suggested she might like a ride - which of course she did....she just didn't like when it was over.

I tried all the tricks that parents do when their kids are misbehaving in public, and they are trying to not make a scene, but none of them worked. I cajoled, I bribed, I did the quiet-sharp-talking-right-in-her-ear bit, I even pulled a little, but she wouldn't budge and kept yelling, "No!" So, I calmly put down the take out we were bringing home for Daddy, and got serious. Sure I was huffing and puffing as I carried her (and the take-out) to the car, but I was victorious.

Despite that little "snag" at the rides Abby and I had a wonderful time, and I couldn't help but think that we need to make a habit of mommy/daughter dates...maybe we'll even let Daddy come every now and again - but only if he picks up the tab.



The Little Lady's ready to eat!


I caught the look on her face as she realized things were slowing
down and the ride was over. This was right before Stubborn Abby
made her appearance.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Plans


Most of my blog posts are composed while I’m putting Abby to bed. It’s in those few minutes, right after she falls asleep, that I lay with her and reflect on our day. On many nights I have half of what I’m going to write in my head before I sneak out of the room and head downstairs to my computer. 

Tonight was tough though. It was one of those days when I really didn’t have much to talk about. Abby was her darling self, being cute and goofy at the same time, nothing I haven’t talked about before, and I’d not taken any pictures, so a phone dump was out of the question. As I thought about my day, I realized that much of my thinking today had to do with the future - not the way off future, but more of the immediate future. So, I thought I would share some of what is coming up for us - consider it a sort of preview.

Tomorrow

I’ve been itching for some time to see “Les Miserables” in the theater. Each time I threw out a hint to Jason, he didn’t seem to take the bait. For some odd reason, sitting next to a weeping woman in the theater for two and a half hours doesn’t sound appealing...I know, weird, right? Anyway, I finally gave up and called one of my friends, whom I haven’t seen in a bit. We set it up and will be heading out to see the movie tomorrow. 

Now, what’s a night out at the movies without dinner beforehand? As I was figuring times, I realized that because of when Jason gets home from work, I wouldn’t be able to get to the restaurant in time for dinner....unless Abby came too. Luckily, Michelle is a diehard Abby fan, so I’m going to bring her along. Problem solved.

I haven’t told Abby yet, because I know she’ll be too excited to wait a whole day until we can go out and see her buddy, but I’m looking forward to it.

This Weekend

I have a confession. I’ve been feeling rather guilty for a while now that I don’t work with Abby as much as I should on her school work. I could give you a whole list of excuses, but frankly there isn’t a good one. I’m a teacher, for heaven’s sake - this is what I’ve been trained to do. So, enough is enough. For the last week I’ve been gathering some resources, minibooks, counting games, letter cards, and the like, and we are going to institute “Saturday Mini-School” around here. 

Now, I’m not going to go overboard. I completely understand that she (and I) need a break, but really I think she will enjoy this. It will give her something to do, and we’ll be able to have some quality time together. Actually, she won’t be the only one to have some fun with this, it’s been a long time since I’ve played “Hi Ho Cherry O”.

A Month and a Half

That’s it, “a month and a half” (or 44 more days to be precise). That’s all we have until Abby turns 8.  Abby’s birthday always seems to catch me by surprise. I always think, Oh, it’s in March, we’ve got time. But her birthday is March 1st - the day after the shortest month of the year. I realized this morning that it will be here before we know it. 

This had me thinking about a party. So, I got the ball rolling with that today too. We’ve picked the venue and the date, and now all that’s left are the many other details that are going to drive me batty between now and then. But I feel like I’ve accomplished something - mainly because I didn’t start thinking about with only a week to spare.

With these “pressing” plans out of the way, now maybe I can get to that list of calls I really need to make....



This is from the other day. I've discovered "Downton Abbey", and
as Abby watched "Brave" for the four millionth time, I was enjoying
season 1 on my iPad. She crawled up on my lap and wanted to
hear what was going on. How could I say, "No" to that cute little face?

Monday, January 14, 2013

Thank You, Tinker Bell


Dear Tinker Bell, 

Thank you so much for your visit tonight, you were so kind and polite - in fact, I didn't even know you were here until Abby came to me after her ice cream cone and told me that you both were "so tired" and that you needed to go to bed. It was then that she opened the fist she had been holding so closely to her chest, and told me that you were here.

Just having you here made everything go so smoothly. Bath time was a breeze - since you both had such cold wings, you know. Believe it or not, Abby usually will fight me on getting a bath before bed - but not tonight, since you needed one too. Then, once she’s in the tub, it isn’t always easy to get her out, but when I toweled you off and put you on the counter to wait for her, it was easy. The same is true about once she got out. Since Abby was so busy brushing your teeth and hair, she barely noticed when I helped her with hers.

Yes, everything was a snap tonight, which helped since Daddy had a late meeting, and I was on my own. I hope you were comfortable in the little house that Abby put you in to go to sleep - I’m sure that the hug and kiss she gave you helped a lot. So, thank you Tinker Bell, you are welcome back any time.

Love,

Abby's Mom

This was from a while ago, but it shows how much Abby
likes you, Tinker Bell. She wanted to look just like you!

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Play Dough

For some reason I'd forgotten how good it is for Abby to play with Play-Doh. Maybe it is because lately, the "cans" we've bought from the store seem to dry out so easily, or maybe because the last batch we had was bright blue - and I'm still trying to figure out how to get bits of it out of the carpet, whatever it is, I'd forgotten how it can calm her...until today.

Last night, before bed she'd wanted to drag out the Play-Doh, and I knew that we were out of fresh packs, so remembering the recipe that our Kindergarten teacher had emailed me a few years ago when I needed to make some pink play dough for Abby's preschool, I told Abby that we might make some today - and that's what we did.

It was fun, and incredibly simple. The best part was that Abby couldn't get enough of it. She sat for quite some time playing with it, and talking about how "squishy" it was. We packed it up during dinner, but she wanted it out again afterwards. It was then that I noticed a couple of things. First, even though the stuff had been out in the open and played with, it was still so nice and smooth and....well...squishy, that it was still fun for Abby to squeeze. Secondly, I noticed how much calmer she seemed. Abby is so incredibly tactile, and I'm surprised that I'd forgotten how much she needs a bit extra input. By the end of the evening she was asking to go to bed, and there were no fights or battles...and, she fell right to sleep after our stories.

Hmmmm....looks like we'll be pulling out the pink play dough a bit more often....



Abby was so proud of the fact that we made it. She kept
saying, "We made it, together!"


SQUISH!


You can always tell when Abby is concentrating, because
her tongue will pop out - hey, it worked for Michael Jordan.

For those of you who are interested, here is the recipe - it really is great!

Play Dough

  1. Stir together 1 cup of flour, 1/2 cup salt, and 1 tablespoon alum (or cream of tartar - which is what I used). 
  2. Add 1 cup of water and 1 tablespoon of cooking oil.
  3. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly until like thick mashed potatoes.
  4. Remove from heat and add 1 teaspoon of vanilla (so it smells good) and 6 drops of food coloring.
  5. Mix well and form into a ball. If is doesnt' form into a ball well enough, heat it a little bit more.
That's it!

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Party


What a fun day Abby had today! Abby got to go to her buddies’ house for a birthday party. As you can imagine, she was pretty excited. Now, when it comes to birthday parties, I get a little nervous, for one reason: presents. 

Abby has the tendency to believe that every wrapped package within her immediate vicinity needs to be opened by her. Today I wanted to make sure that Abby knew that the presents that were going to be at the party were not for her. We talked about it quite a bit, and I waited until this morning to wrap the present she was taking. I wanted her to see it and get excited about giving it - my plan worked beautifully!

She enjoyed seeing me wrap the package, and even wanted to wrap one of her own - for the birthday girl’s older sister. I love that she didn’t want anyone to be left out. 

She was so sweet when we left for the party. She wanted to carry the package and the whole way there she talked about giving it to Rachel. As we were driving, I heard her mention the “Little Pony” that we were giving. I made sure to tell her that she shouldn’t tell what we’d wrapped - that it was a secret. So when “Carter” asked her if the gift was for him she very adamantly said, “No Carter! It’s for Rachel......and it’s a secret!”

I was so happy to hear, when I picked her up, that she’d been excellent when it came time for presents. The only one she did open was the one she was given as a party favor. This is a huge step forward for her. 

It was a fun day for all of us, since she got to stay a bit longer to enjoy dinner, extra play time, and even pedicures with her buddies, and Mom and Dad got to go out for a meal on our own - all thanks to some wonderful friends.


Abby learned a new trick from "Carter" today.


Abby got home and got right to work, doing her "craps"
(a.k.a. "crafts") that she'd gotten as a party favor.

Friday, January 11, 2013

Opera, Anyone?


We never know how a morning will go around here. Sometimes they are smooth and Abby is her sweet self, helping Daddy get things together, feeding Bruiser, and simply being a darling little girl. Some mornings her stubborn side decides to come out to play, and it takes every bit of coaxing power we possess to get her to eat and get ready for school. Then, some mornings are just fun - like this morning. 

We'd gotten up and headed right down to enjoy some breakfast today. Afterwards I went upstairs to get ready for work. Soon enough Abby came up and joined Jason and I in our room. As I stood doing my hair, and Jason ironed his shirt, in walked "Opera Abby"- in full regalia. 

She'd put her "Fiona" dress on, along with her viking hat with the braids, and she was ready to go. She shut the door and announced that it was "Opera Abby Showtime!" She then proceeded to do some pretty stellar opera singing, complete with a dramatic raised hand. After we clapped and yelled, "Brava!" she turned to me, telling me it was my turn. Now, how could you not sing a few notes after such an invitation? So, I gave my best opera imitation - which then prompted Bruiser to join in. That's when Abby's attention switched to him. She walked over to where he was laying and declared that he was "Viking Man Bruiser" and that it was his turn. 

As funny as this all was, it wasn't the best moment. That came when she asked Dada to play, "Quando, Quando, Quando" by Michael Buble, and when he did she joined in - using a Q-tip for her microphone. I'm going to have the picture of her in that silly viking hat, singing soulfully into a Q-tip stuck in my head for quite some time. It was a sight to see - and such a fun way to start my day.




Yes, this was from Halloween, but it also is a good picture of what she
looked like this morning.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Technical Difficulties

Alright, I won't tell you how long I've been sitting here, trying to make technology bend to my will...let's just say it has been too long. I spent time tonight constructing a fun little crossword puzzle and learning how to make it interactive, so that you all could test your "Abby Knowledge" - I got it all done too, I even wrote a cute little post to go with it.

Then I discovered the link didn't work.

GRRRRR!

So I'm going to leave you with the cute picture I took of my colorful little miss and call it a night. I promise you, tonight's post isn't short on "meat" for want of trying. In the end, all you really want is to see how darling Abby is anyway.....right?

She chose tonight's outfit - if you hadn't already guessed that.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Endurance


Being a teacher has prepared me well for parenting...except for one thing: endurance. As a teacher I deal with many of the things that parents have to. I have to find a way to motivate kids that don’t really want to do what I ask of them. I have to encourage children when the think they can’t do it. I have to find a way to redirect bad behavior. I have to let kids know that I am the authority in the room and they have to listen to me, while at the same time be likable enough that they will want to do what I ask of them. All of this I have to do, before I can approach the content that I need to teach. But as a teacher I can do something that parents can’t - I can go home without my students.

Don’t get me wrong, I love my students, but there are days when we all are crabby, and getting into that quiet car after school - alone - is wonderful.

This brings me to our darling Abby - and that endurance I was talking about. Often my “teacher head” knows the right course of action, but sometimes my “parenting chops” just can’t keep up. I start to “give in” on the little things. I stop letting my “no” stay “no”, and because it is easier in the moment, I cave. I get worn down, and then I pay the price later. 

I thought a lot about this today, as I reflected on Abby’s behavior of late. Yesterday things came to a head. My darling, charming, lovable, and happy child.....was being a complete brat. Now, I realized that after the second day of school, after a nice long and relaxing break, she might be a touch tired, but we’d been working up to this, and I knew some changes needed to be made. 

Our initial concern was that she was having the same behavior problems we were seeing at home, at school. My first course of action was to send an email to her teacher. It was after I’d gotten Abby to bed that I saw her teacher had replied. “Call me” was what the message. My stomach sank. Oh, Man! I thought, This is really bad if we need to discuss it over the phone. It turned out that it wasn’t quite as bad as I thought, but Jason and I still talked quite a bit this morning to Abby about how to behave at school.

Today was a better day. I picked Abby up from school partly because I wanted to hear about her day, but also in the hopes of shortening her long day by not having her take the bus. The report was “pretty good” - and I’ll take that.

This is a process - behaviors aren’t changed overnight, but they can be changed, with hard work and consistency - my “teacher head” knows this well. I just hope my “parenting chops” are up to the challenge. 


Abby's reward for a good day was that she got to choose
dinner - she picked pizza - big surprise, I know!
Now that's the happy face I'm used to!