Friday, March 29, 2013

Never, Ever

Recently Abby has taken to saying, "Never, ever." These words usually comes up when there is something she doesn't really want to do - or when there's something she doesn't want me to do. They first made their appearance today when she declared it was "cuddle time" and instructed me I was to stay in her room. The thing was there was some laundry that needed drying, so I explained to her that I would be right back up after I'd moved the load around. That's when she barricaded the door with her body and told me, "No, Mom....never ever!" I'm kind of good with never having to do laundry again, but I don't see that happening any time soon.

Later, as we were getting ready for church she grabbed my slippers as I stepped out of them, hid them in a laundry basket, and muttered, "Never, ever" as she covered them with clothes. Apparently, I would need to find another way to keep my toes warm from here on out.

The best, though was when we sat reading books in the nursery before church. Knowing that we would need to head up to church in a few minutes, I asked if she needed to use the potty. Without missing a beat she said, "No, I'm good...never, ever." I asked if she meant that she would never use the potty again. When she said, "Yep!" I told her that may be an issue. She just told me to keep reading.

What a funny girl!

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

The Future

In those first few weeks, after Abby's diagnosis of Down syndrome was confirmed, there were many things that I mourned. These sad thoughts mostly centered around the life I'd expected she would have. I have since realized that no parent's plan for their child is guaranteed, no matter what challenges they are (or aren't) presented with.

One of the misconceptions that I gave up pretty early was the thought that Abby would never live on her own, or find a young man to love. I saw quite clearly Abby's independent spirit coming through early on. Almost from the very beginning everything Abby did was on her terms and in her time. I had no doubt there would come a day when she would exert that independence and want to leave our nest. I know when that time comes the questions we will be asking will have more to do with our readiness to let her go, than her readiness to be on her own.

Along about the time I was wrapping my head around that, and wondering just what that might look like, I was presented with several different stories of young people with Down syndrome getting married. As I saw a few of those couples, it wasn't so hard to imagine my own little girl doing the same. After all, as she grew older, she also grew more and more lovable. I had no doubt many people would be drawn to her irresistible light - this included boys.

Whenever I would bring this up to Jason though, he was adamant - his little girl would never get married, she would live with us forever - and that was that! In short, his response was typical of any loving Daddy when came to his little girl.

All of this brings us to yesterday. I was cleaning out Abby's backpack, as I normally do after school and came across this note:

To say I was surprised is an understatement. This was probably the last piece of mail I expected to find. I couldn't help but laugh at the sweetness of it. Jason was a wee bit concerned (to say the least), but after a quick note to the teacher we were clued into the fact that this young gentleman is so excited about his writing, that he's been writing quite a few notes. 

As harmless as this is, it got me thinking about the future, and that Abby has so much in store for her - so much that I can't even imagine it all. Isn't that all a parent wants anyway, a bright future for their child, filled with possibilities? I learn day after day that this is exactly what Abby has - a future that is as bright and positive as she is.

The beautiful young lady who sat next to me as I wrote my post tonight. How in the world
did I become so very blessed?

Sunday, March 24, 2013


How long does it take to hem a pair of pants? long does it take? This isn't some crazy riddle, with a funny punch-line, I really would like to know, because the hour and a half it took me today, seemed a bit long. In order to tell this story though, I need to give you a couple of pieces of background information first. Let's start with the pants....

Abby is perfectly built, she just isn't built like the majority of the kids out there, it seems. The poor kid was blessed with legs that are a mite too short for the standard pants. We've gotten around this dilemma in the past by getting her capris - which fit her length perfectly. This time around, when Abby needed some new pants, we got some standard pants - figuring I now have a big, bad sewing machine that can handle a few hems. Today was as good a day as any to get that done, since I'd had all my sewing stuff out to work on Abby's Easter dress.

Now, the other piece of background has to do with Abby's love of make-up. If she is around when I'm getting ready I have to include her in my face-painting ritual. If I need powder, Abby needs powder. When my eyeshadow goes on, Abby is there waiting for hers....and if I pull out lipstick? Well Abby's in heaven then. Of course, I make sure to turn my brushes and applicators, so she doesn't actually get her face made up, but she doesn't realize that. She's happy as a clam because she's all dolled up.

This afternoon these two bits of "history" came together. I was finally able to convince her that I needed a bit of a sewing break from the coloring marathon she'd coerced me into. All was going well as I trimmed her new pants, but then I trotted up to our bedroom, in order to iron a nice crease for the hem. Abby followed, happily talking about "getting ready for work" as I measured and pressed her pants. All I had left was to make a simple line of stitches around the pant legs and I'd be done - mission complete.

As I went back downstairs to get that done, Abby decided to stay behind. I didn't worry about it, I could hear her happily chatting to herself - I mean really, how much trouble could she get into? It was round about the second pant leg, that that very question ran through my head, and I realized she gotten pretty quiet.

I called her down and as she came around the corner, I quickly glanced up from my machine. My foot immediately arrested on the foot pedal as I saw her face. Abby had given herself a black eye - literally. She still held my eyeliner in her hand as she continued to color in her eyelid.

The crying started when I swooped in and took the eyeliner away. The crying continued as I tried desperately to find my bottle of eye make-up remover. Finally I was able to calm her down and clean her up, all the while trying to get a good look at her eye, to make sure it was alright. Eventually, I did get back to those pants,......but then Princess Abby's fairy godmother wand broke.

Once again, I paused my hemming to fire up the glue gun.

In the end, those pants did get done, but a job that should have taken about twenty minutes, took about five times longer.

You know what, though? That's okay, because it did get done, and we were able to get back to coloring, ending the day on a happy note....and that is very good indeed.

Yesterday I finished up Abby's Easter dress, and took her outside to get
some pictures. After giving me a nice smile, she decided to ham it up - and
boy, did she ever!

This was the picture I took after the eyeliner episode - just to prove to
Daddy that his little peanut was a-okay.

Abby brought her compact in the car. She patted her cheeks the whole way to church
this morning.

Monday, March 11, 2013

A Midnight Visit

Over the past week Abby has done many funny things, and each time I found myself composing a blog post to go with it. Last night though, she did something that I knew I had to write about - because frankly, anything that can make me laugh after being woken up in the middle of the night is post-worthy.

Abby has never been a good sleeper. Part of the blame for that should be put squarely at my door, but I also believe that due to some of her sensory issues, it is sometimes incredibly hard for her to settle herself down without help. I am fully confident that these issues will eventually work themselves out, especially as she gets older and more independent. I'm already seeing a significant change in her pattern.

Usually when she wakes up and needs a drink I'll hear her call for me. I've never ignored that call, first because I wouldn't want her to get scared, but also because I don't want her to come and find me. Our stairs are pretty steep, and since our bedroom is on a different level of the house than hers, it has always made both Jason and me panicky just thinking about her coming down the stairs when she's half asleep. Lately though, that isn't an option she's giving us.

Several weeks ago I was surprised to wake up and find her standing at my bedside. Her only response to my surprised, "It's Abby!" was, "Hi, Mom." It is rare for me to not hear her calling - I haven't slept that soundly since we brought her home, but I wondered if I hadn't heard her and so she decided to come and find me. Since that night I've realized that isn't the case. She's started leaving her room to come and find me - without making a peep. Sometimes I catch her before she hits the stairs, but last night she made it all the way to our room again.

I awoke to a strange thumping. I wasn't too worried, since Bruiser was happily snoring on the floor of our room, but it was weird enough to bring me out of my sound sleep. I opened my eyes to see a little figure standing against the wall outside our door, peeking in. I realized that the "thumping" had been Abby coming carefully down the stairs. Abby had made another midnight escape.

As soon as she realized that I was on to her, she slid to the floor and tried to hide. It was when I walked over to her and asked, "What are you doing, Abby?" that I heard the fake snoring that went along with the hiding that she was doing. I had to laugh as I let her know I wasn't buying it for a second. With a hug and a kiss for Daddy, Abby and I trotted back up to her room for what she'd come looking for in the first place, a drink of water and some cuddles from Mom.

Yes, Abby continues to make me laugh - at all hours of the day and night.

Last week Abby was looking particularly cute when she came to school
with me for a bit. She tried to convince me she needed some coffee
too when we stopped to get Mom some.  Despite her cute smile, Mom
was the only one who got a cup of joe.

Abby opened her birthday present from Auntie Kir and Uncle Clint today.
We both LOVED the "Super Abby" costume that Auntie Kir made
especially for Abby.

Saturday Abby decided that winter was over, and that the driveway needed
some spiffing up. Rainbows and spiders were in order.

We also blew some bubbles - one of Abby's favorite activities!

Monday, March 4, 2013

Business as Usual

I'm a bit of a "what's next" kind of a girl. Sometimes I catch myself thinking big event to big event and not enjoying the in-between time. I realized tonight, as I was peeling potatoes, that right now I'm good with that "in-between" time. I could use a bit of getting back to normal.

Saturday was Abby's big birthday bash. It had worked so well last year to have it in the gym at my school, that we decided to go that route again this year....with just a few changes. First, we were a bit more reasonable when it came to food. Last year, by the end of the party, we were begging people to take whole pizzas home with them. This year we went with considerably less, and still had left overs - one and a half pizzas was much more manageable. No one asked us, "How many people were you expecting?" - that was a good sign we'd gotten it right.

Something else I did differently was to not plan. As a teacher there is a part of me that shudders when I think of being in a room full of children, and not having a list of activities planned for them to do. Last year I had a craft table, and came up with several party games to play - none of which the kids really wanted to do. They all ended up playing with the balls and equipment in the school's ball room. This year that's what I figured they would want to do again, and sure enough that's what happened. Not only did the kids enjoy this, but I saw a few of the adults playing a bit of basketball as well. It worked perfectly, and was a lot less work for me - lesson number two: learned.

In the end it was a very nice time. The kids had a great time playing, and the adults got to visit - even if they had to yell across the tables at each other, in order to be heard over the happy screams of the children. By the end there were no tears or boo-boos, so I'm declaring it a happy success.

I could even tell a difference in Abby. There were a few times when things got a bit hectic for her, but overall she was super. When it was all over, the only indications I got that she was pretty tired were the few times she would tear up at home for little reasons. I completely understood that though, because the minute I sat down, I got a bit teary at the thought of having to get back up again.

Sunday was truly a day of rest for us, and today....well, it's back to "business as usual", and you know what? I'm really good with that. After all of the excitement of the last few days, I could use a nice big dose of "usual".

We went a couple of hours early to set things up. For the most part
Abby was a great helper, but she did get impatient, especially once
she got hungry. I just so happened to catch her at that moment.

Jason hit a homer when he had the idea to get this wonderful "Brave" cake.
Abby was so excited, and it was delicious as well as impressive. Thanks
to Legacy Cakes in Spring Arbor, for making Abby's day extra special.

After lunch, after presents, and after cake, Abby was getting
a bit "miffed" at all the cameras in her face. Kitty Abby didn't
want to cooperate anymore....can you tell?

Nothing like building a few towers with some extra cups
before school, huh? Yep, we're all back to normal.

Friday, March 1, 2013

Happy Birthday!

I know yesterday I declared that my year of blogging was over - and it is, but I realized tonight, that I'm not quite done. Today was so chocked full of activities and goodness, that I found myself mentally composing my post several times throughout the day. So, I'm continuing on. I can't promise that I will write every day, but I can promise you to write often.

Today of course was Abby's 8th birthday. Unbelievable. The crazy thing about all of it is that the first moments, months, and years of her life seem so long ago - but at the same time we have arrived at eight years far too quickly. Eight just sounds older. Eight is two small years away from double digits. Eight seems impossible.

Along with celebrating Abby's birthday, we had Abby's annual IEP. Now, for those of you who may not know, IEP stands for "Individual Education Plan". In other words it is the time when we sit down with Abby's teachers and therapists and talk about her progress this past year, and discuss goals for next year. In essence it is a parent/teacher conference on steroids.

These meetings always tie me into knots. We weren't expecting any surprises, but you never know. Since the meeting was in the morning, right after school began, Jason decided that he would bring Abby to school, and I would come from my school. I loved the fact that we were all there together. That Jason and I could walk Abby to her classroom and get her settled in, and pop in on her after our meeting. We even got to hear the all-school announcement from the principal wishing Abby a happy birthday. I know she was feeling like a queen.

The meeting went very well. Abby is making great strides. We are so pleased with her progress. Even better, I got out without crying - this really is a major achievement. After a quick trip to the book fair, we went down to see her one more time before we left. We found her diligently working on the computer when we walked in. She saw us and popped her headphones off, telling us she was working on the alphabet. How far we've come! When we turned to leave there were no tears, no fits, no, "I wanna go home"'s, she simply put her headphones back on, and told us she'd see us later. Wow.

It happened to be a half day for her, therefore she got to come home early. Jason had taken the day off, so he was here to greet her. The two of them ran some errands and even stopped in to visit me at the end of my day. A very happy surprise indeed.

Tomorrow will be the big celebration, but we couldn't let the day go without cake, ice cream, and presents. Abby has always loved to have "Happy Birthday" sung to her, so of course she loved that portion of our evening. She blew out all eight candles like a pro, took two bites of cake, and started asking about her presents.

She is a machine when opening presents - all wonder and amazement while she's getting the paper off, and then on to the next one with barely a glance at what she'd gotten. All that ripping is just too much for her.

Yes, today was nearly perfect. It was a day when the three of us celebrated Abby - a little more than usual, that is.

This one really needs no words.

She got all of those candles out all on her own - and didn't
even have to use her magic wand once.

Mmmmm, ice cream cake.....

We may have gone a bit overboard....

She was excited to see her Mavis bat.

....And her "Brave" book and triplet bears from Aunt Pam and Uncle Todd

The local toy store is run by some pretty smart
people. Yesterday we got Abby's $10 gift certificate
in the mail, because she belongs to the "Birthday Club".
She and Daddy took a trip over today after school and
she picked this lovely costume out. If you remember
she got a pink superhero costume for her birthday last year.
It was time for an upgrade apparently.

Healthy school plans mean healthy birthday treats.
So this year Abby brought in some grape caterpillars.

They must have sung "Happy Birthday" to her. How do I know? She's blowing
out the imaginary candle on her caterpillar, that's how!