29 December 2007

Lists, swimming, and a snow blower

Two Julia things –

I have been using a daily list of activities with Julia during the winter break and although she can be a bit resistant to making the list, once we get started, it is good for her and she is enjoying. Today, our list was shoveling snow, food shopping, visiting the Y, swimming, shopping for a snow blower, playing a game, working on the number 3. I draw pictures of each activity on our small chalk board and we cross off activities as we do them. It is surprising to me that such a simple process works with Julia.

We joined the Y today – took the tour, signed the check, and went swimming. Julia was beside herself with joy. What a fish she is. I almost felt guilty that we have waited so long to find a place to swim with her. Definitely, we are going to sign her up for classes. One facility Julia is not old enough to use at the Y is the hot tub. There was no age limit at the JCC and Julia always enjoyed the hot tub, especially in the winter. Now she has to wait until she is 16. I’m also expecting to make some good use of the Y once Julia goes back to school. A good time for new year’s resolutions.

We bought a snow blower today. Ummm, getting in touch with winter? I guess we could have suffered though the winter, and as long as I am not working, I could take care of the walks and driveway, but I am not sure how we could handle it once both of us are working. And my mother’s been after me to look for something that we could use. Thanks, Mom.

I did the research last night, and ran into a neighbor early this morning who was using the Toro model that I was interested in. It is a smaller blower but this neighbor has used it for a few years and said he was very happy. That was all I needed to find a shop with some stock and sales help who could answer questions. And now we have a new machine!

Family picture

So rarely are the four of us together AND in front of the camera at the same time that I thought I'd post these three pictures taken by Matthew during Thanksgiving at Lisa's. Sometimes I think we will never get another picture with all of us looking at the camera and not making silly faces -- and that includes David. Cheshire comes home next week for a few weeks before her last college semester. Oh, I can't wait to wrap my arms around that girl!

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28 December 2007

Da-Who Dorays

We have had a very sweet Christmas although I was without my laptop just before Christmas which made communication difficult. I was attacked by some spywear which needed to be cleaned out. I gave it to the professionals and all is well now.

Julia had a wonderful Christmas. Marcia and Matthew spent Christmas with us, and we all decorated the tree, watched Christmas movies and sang Christmas songs. Julia loved helping me cook and talking to Cheshire (who spent Christmas with Jason and his family in the north of England). Julia and Matthew set out milk cookies and fruit, plus a carrot for the reindeer, for Santa and both of them were very good about going to sleep on Christmas Eve.

Christmas morning was exciting but Julia still doesn't know that she is supposed to be up and ready to go downstairs before the sun rises. Matthew does. Once Julia got downstairs, though, she was amazed by the presents under the tree and stuffed into her stocking. Before she tore into the piles she insisted that we join hands and sing Da-Who Dorays, the Whos' Christmas song from the Grinch story. None of us know the words but it's a good song to make it up as you go along. LOL.

We opened presents one at a time, as is our custom, with each present admired and examined and sometimes played with for awhile before moving on. Julia got a new family and furniture for her doll house, a Bitty Baby (regifted from when we first met her and the moving eyes freaked her out) and lots of clothes (which fit at least 3 of her dolls), a Sesame Street boat for the tub, books, puzzles, a few wind up toys and weebles. She loved them all. The cosy sweat suit that Santa brought and the night gown that Babja sent were opened and appreciated, but not as much as the toys.

Marcia and Matthew went home the day after Christmas and now it is just Julia and I until Cheshire comes home after the New Year. We are going to spend time working on numbers and having pretty directed days -- I started with a list yesterday that we checked frequently during the day and crossed off tasks that we accomplished. There were a few trips to the naughty chair and some stubborn refusal to do what we had decided (and Julia did have a hand in deciding what to do). Every day will have some numbers work and yesterday we did the number 2. We counted two of things, made a 2's parade, talked about the 2s on our bodies, and found 2 of food we eat. Today, we will work on 4. We've already counted 4 eggs, and 4 yokes.

I'll try to write more about this planned day later. Now, I have to shovel snow. Yes, more snow, and more and more coming today.

25 December 2007

David and Matthew looking much too handsome
Julia and her mommy after a good Christmas Eve bath. Even knots come out better on Christmas!

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We really did open all of the presents, except for a special few that will be sitting under the tree until January 3 for our beloved traveller.
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Matthew finds out what is inside his stocking.
And basks in the glory of a pile of presents.
Julia plays with the new inhabitants of her doll house. They move in with some very nice furniture!

New bath toys!
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Christmas morning

A peaceful Christmas morning. Santa has visited, the presents laid, the fire and candles are lit. The room trembles in anticipation.
And Matthew tires his hardest to be patient.

Time to discover what is in the stuffed stocking.

And now for the first big box!
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Christmas Eve

Julia and Matthew hung their stockings. Actually, we've all had stocking emergencies and so Matthew was using his Dad's stocking, Julia was using an unnamed stocking, and us grownups all used Marcia's stocking. As it happened, Santa, smart sprite that he is, had no trouble at all figuring out what was stuffed in each one.
Psoing in front of the tree before bedtime.
Couldn't help but slip this one in.
Two very precious kids, just missing the traveling offspring. And we miss them dearly.
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24 December 2007

Tree of Light

A little late night note with a crazy picture of our first tree in Wisconsin. It was hard to not feel the Christmas blues yesterday after we finished dressing the tree. I am missing my girl Cheshire. It was good to have Marcia and Matthew with us but I still felt like none of our decorations quite fit well in this new house -- too big, too small, too much, not hardly enough. Then, last night the tree and candles were lit, a fire burned in the fireplace, and we were watching a movie. Suddenly, the house felt warm and recognizable. The new didn't feel so strange, the new melted into comfortable.
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18 December 2007

old age, developmental testing, and new words

So for the first time, someone from school asked if I was Julia’s grandmother. No offense taken, but I might be looking rather haggarded (which doesn’t seem to be a real word) these days. I admit that I am sick of house work. I have no excuse not to do it – when will I find a job AND an excuse for a messy house?? Okay, those two thoughts – feeling haggarded and being sick of housework – have almost no connection, but then I'm old as Julia's grandmother today, so my thougths are muddled.

Finally, finally, got the call from the developmental clinic that we have been trying to get into and after talking to a doctor (I think) about Julia, the first reaction was that they might not be the right folks to be testing her because what they do is mostly medical related developmental delay. Oy! I backpedaled and convinced them to do the evaluation, if, for nothing else than to rule out any medical diagnosis. I don’t think that anyone who we’ve talked to was the exact right person.

My child the puzzle. Oy, again.

So we made an appointment for January and I have to get all of Julia’s records over to the clinic. And there must be an easier way to do that apart from having them mailed from each of Julia’s providers. The number is mounting up.

Meanwhile, Julia moves forward. She used on and off correctly, and closed and open correctly. This has taken a long time and plenty of opening, closing, ons and offs of doors, windows, lights, closets, and refrigerators. In speech therapy, Carol practiced "is" with Julia and Julia is trying to use the word at times. Julia also used "behind" correctly while we were driving. It was a school bus that was "behind white car." We also worked on taking turns in speech and I see that Carol forces the issues more than I usually am willing to, so, I will follow Carol’s lead and do as much as I can taking turns even if it is only for a round or two of turns.

I sent out a plea on my yahoo adoption groups about our testing dilemma and received a whole bunch of replies with ideas, hints, etc. One mother suggested Montessori school or using Montessori materials. This is a great suggestion and I thought I’d try some during the winter break. We will be working on social stories as well.

On a sillier side, Julia loved our pasta, sausage, and broccoli dish, that David was warming up for her lunch, for her breakfast. No, we haven't given her left over pizza but I have a feeling it would be a hit.

15 December 2007

Midday snow pictures.

The house in the snow. I first thought that the house was a bit wildly painted, then I grew used to is. Now, I positively love the way it looks in the snow.

Last week, I heard on the radio that we WILL have a white Christmas. I guess that means no melting. That got me to wondering about the amount of snow on every street and piled in ever parking lot and lawns, etc. David says they seem to be trucking snow away downtown. I wonder how high the piles get and what doe the city look like in February. We were up last February but it was bitter cold and I just didn't notice how much snow there was. I also think that last year was a light snow year. When David moved up in April, there were stlill snow piles around town. Sure if they are 10 or 12 feet high, those piles are going to last a long time. There was, however, no snow by June.

Here is Julia and Daddy get ready for Julia's first sled ride. David dug out his childhood sled that we've carried from place to place. David used it as a kid; Cheshire used it as a kid; and now it's Julia's turn. She loved, loved, loved the idea of the sled but was pretty excited just being pulled along our street. Our street does slope up and we dragged her all the way up the street and then turned around and went down. It was a very slow ride down, but it was plenty for our girl. She laughed and cheered and loved it.

I think we have to build up to a real hill, but I guess we will have plenty of time to do that. I am sure it looks a little silly to see two grownups pulling a 6 year old up the street. I think most kids this age are on the hills, but Julia n needs the tuning. When Cheshire was a little one, I thought of her as finely tuned. She didn't need lots of admonishment or yelling and never any hitting. She was very atuned to her teachers' and parents' disappointment. She was the first one to say that someone yelled at her when all that person did was raise their voice slightly. (This did change in her teen age years. LOL)

Julia on the other hand, is hardly tuned at all. I am now telling her to make sure she responds to my first calling or admonishment. She wants to please but doesn't really know that I don't want to yell at her forever! I keep reminding her to listen and respond immediately and she is getting better at it.

As for experiences, like the sled, she has no idea how to respond. She can be unwilling to try anything new because of her excitment and I am sure, fear as well. Today's ride up and down the street was a exciting as a big rollercoaster. I do wonder what it would be like for her if she had siblings and was expected to just join into the fun. Seeing other kids doing these exciting things might make her more comfortable, but then again, it might not be that simple. She might need the very one-on-one care that we give her.

And that is why two old grownups were pulling Julia up the street and down again this afternoon.

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Snow report

Snow this morning -- light, soap flakes flakes falling very gentle. Not an intense snow and although it is sticking (almost true without being said here. There is no melting snow this time of year.), the fall is light enough that the accumulation is not much as of yet. I'll clear it away soon -- way before it stops.

Julia in full winter regailia.

I shovelled but Julia cleaned off the blue car. And I mighty good job she did too
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I was on the phone with Cheshire for awhile. She is finishing up school work and preparing to travel to the UK on Tuesday to spend Christmas with Jason and his family. I told her that we are going to have to travel together in the future as I am not willing to give up Christmasses with her forever. Can't wait to get her home in the early new year.

We will probably do a little decorating today but we won't get a tree until late next week. I like Christmas to be compact and intense, and the tree fresh enough to last until the new year.

I started a Christmas story for Julia. Maybe over her head but if I can find some pictures, I'll do a simple book for her this week. It will be my first attempt to explain the real meaning of Christmas to her. So far she has absorbed something about trees and lights and sants and presents, but nothing about the Holy Family becoming a family on Christmas. And that is what the story is about -- becoming a family, like Mary, Joseph and Jesus and like us.

14 December 2007

Just another note

Turned on the tv to find about two thirds of It's a Wonderful Life. Okay, I am such sap. I love the movie. Feeling pretty much like George today, and having a hard time thinking of what to even ask for for the holidays. Pretty content. Would like that job, but pretty content.

Just a few Julia things. Tonight, I lit a candle during dinner and Julia was more interested in watching the candle burning than eating her salad. After watching for awhile, she told us that the fire was dancing.

After school, Julia and I went to mail our Christmas packages at the post office. I had nine boxes and had to make two trips from the car. Julia held one box and held ourt place in line as I made my two trips out to the car. When the woman at the window asked what we were doing, Julia said that we were mailing Christmas.

When we were in Indy last weekend at the kids' museum, Julia saw Santa. It was pretty low key, short line, no hype. Julia was excited to see Santa and before she got on his lap, I told Santa that this was Julia's first Santa visit. Well, Santa didn't get it at all. He tried to get her on his lap to pose with him. She squirmed and was not comfortable. When he asked what she wanted for Christmas, she told him that she wanted presents and a tree.

Still I took at least one good picture. Hard when the Santa Claus is not the sensitive type.
Julia in the "ice" castle. What a princess!

Julia has always loved slides but has been a little bit hesitant about them when she thinks that she will go down very quickly. Something about her confidence is increasing and the last few weeks she has started pushing herself off slides and enjoying the ride.

And the landing.
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Snow 101: People in Wisconsin like winter -- okay, not everyone. People have favorite clothes and boots and gloves and hats. They think of the snow and ice and cold like I usually think of spring, summer, and fall. It is something different for me -- to really like the cold and snow.

A very tiny city snow plow came around yesterday and plowed out our corner. It was the one part of our sidewalks that I didn't do the first day of snow, and the next day, we had ice instead of snow and I couldn't shovel a path from our sidewalk to the street. But this little plow scraped and pushed and we now have paths. And I will shovel faithfully as soon as the snow stops from now on.

So far this December, we've had 22 inches of snow.