31 October 2008

Pumpkin Carving

I would have loved carving out pumpkins this year, especially because these pumpkins had great shape and debth; however, my bandaged finger can't get wet and it is hard to cut anything, let alone decorative pumpkin carving. So, I went to choir practice and Julia and Daddy carved. I came home to two well-carved pumpkin faces shining out at me. It was very nice.
Let the carving begin!
We are always concerned about Julia's lack of focus. These pictures paint such a different picture. Just wait until I teach this kid how to make Ukrainian Easter Eggs.
The master lets the apprentice take over.
And she does.
These are the pumpkin faces that greeted me when I came home!
And here is my favorite little pumpkin with the pumpkin face that she drew after Daddy took her through the whole process. Also, note, that the kid has on the same shirt this morning that she did last night. Persuasion by the kid working well on the Dad.

30 October 2008

Halloween eve

Starting Thursday morning -- The almost-last-roses-of-summer are wilting on my desk. I don't have the heart to take them out of the vase and put them into the compost bin yet. The roses are pink and next month there will be so little pink outside.

Julia is upstairs getting dressed. I am trying (t-r-y-i-n-g, give me patience!) to let her get dressed BY HERSELF on our slow days. So I lay out the clothes and tell her that she can change them if she doesn't want to wear what I put out. She complains about socks and I tell her socks are necessary -- any socks that are in the bin, but SOCKS.

Then I take my shower.

When I finish getting dressed, Julia is naked and "reading" the new library book I read to her last night. Ok, she took off clothes. I remind her that we are going to the kids museum (a favorite of hers) and that she needs to get dressed soon, if not now. We have a half hour before we leave.

I do other things, including straightening up the house, making my list of the day, looking up the resale kids shop. I remind her that we need to leave soon. 15 minutes now. She comes downstairs, dressed but no shoes. I send her upstairs where multiple pairs of shoes are neatly lined up and she calls back down to me over and over again.

Mommy, are you angry?

No. Put on shoes.

Mommy, are you frustrated (pronounced fustated)?


Mommy, what are you doing down there?

Waiting for you, Julia. Put on shoes.

Mommy, don't yell at me. (Good sentence!) Mommy, come here.

Why do you want me up there?

Mommy . . . mommy . . . mommy. What are you doing? I am reading.

. . . About 10 minutes later, Julia comes down with shoes on. I jump up, tell her how proud I am that she put on her shoes, and we get ready to leave the house.

I am wondering if she will dress herself for high school? And yes, I do remember Cheshire taking forever to get dressed around this age but for Cheshire it was about choice of clothes, for Julia it is about focus. I remind myself that Cheshire now gets hersef up, dressed, and out every single day.

Once we got out of the house, we were on the go for most of the day. We visited the kids' museum and heard Ken Lonnquist Halloween Concert. He was really pretty good although his audience surged and waned before he was finished. Most of the kids there were under 4 and their behavior, although age appropriate, was not really musician appropriate. Julia listened from a comfortable padded area where she could watch a fish tank and the last few minutes from my lap. Ken will have a kids' musical produced next month. I think we will try to catch it.
After the concert, we prowled the museum and Julia hit all her favorite exhibits. We had pizza for lunch and did a round of shopping -- groceries, computer store, a kid's resale shop, and our local Land's End Inlet. I found a few sweaters and long sleeve shirts but Julia still needs winter clothes. Maybe its time to go back to ebay. I am pretty disappointed with the Once Upon A Child here in Madison. It is a a great resale chain for kids clothes. I found lots of stuff for Julia at the Indy store but in the Madison store does not buy quality kids' clothes and so there is none of it to find.
During our shoppings I lost my temper once with Julia. We were in the grocery store and I planned a very quick visit. Julia got angry at me for some reason -- oh, one day she will answer the great question "Why" and we will know her reasons. She picked up two green apples and threw them. Not at me -- so that was a good thing -- but I got angry because she was being so disrespectful. I grabbed her by the ear, which shocked her, and 'dragged' her to our cart.

Okay, not good mothering. I was immediately sorry and we stopped everything and had a talk about respecting things that are in stores and food. Interesting, how some things just go too far, some behavior gets to me. Julia had many tantrums in the old days -- ha! two years ago -- Maybe it was because this came out of the blue and for seemingly no reason.

Julia is beginning to understand frustration, although the line between that and anger is very thin. She is also questioning me all the time when I raise my voice or put on a stern tone about my anger and love. So many times it is not anger but seriousness. She doesn't like me to be angry or serious.

Julia: I not listening.

Me: That is why I have to be serious.
We've had our pumpkins in the garage for the last 2-3 weeks because we have fierce squirrels who would have gobbled them if thye were left outside. Funny, that our neighbors down the street and around the block can leave pumpkins out and they are not touched. Yesterday, I put the three beautiful pumpkins out around 4. When Davd brought two of them in to carve them after the sun went down, there were fresh teeth marks on one. I am sure these are the same squirrels that yell at the dog and venture onto the front porch even when we are sitting there.

29 October 2008


Julia rides the wild bronze sea turtle."I'm ready for my close up, Mr. DeMille."
Julia tries on a shell and decides it is a lot better to ride on the shell instead of carrying it on her back. Can you tell which picture mommy made Julia pose for? I think that modeling is not her career. LOL!

28 October 2008

Julia's room

Yahoo! My laptop is back, albeit with a new hard drive. I have to install programs and figure out what I am going to do about word processing, but I hope I am up for a good long time.

So, do I have pictures.

The top picture is a close up of the boarder that I stencilled around the top of the room. I like it because it lowers the ceiling and makes the room cosy.
The kite that we bought in China goes so well with Julia's colors. Who knew? In the corner above the toy shelves are pictures of family and friends with Julia and also our threee "red couch" pictures.
Instead of putting a canopy over the bed, I found three paper parasols to hang from the ceiling. Notice the three metal lizards. We found them on sale at CVS and Julia really wanted to hang them in her room. I wish we could find some insects of the same ilk.

The duvet cover that is on Julia's bed was bought to finish our guest room when it became Alice's bedroom. I expected to get something else for Julia when I figured out what she liked but Julia likes this one. This is her flower blanket and so it stays.
In the last corner, we have two bean bag chairs watched over by the bird mobil that hung over Cheshire's crib. And notice that Julia has her own mirror to ask, who is the fairest one of all. Over the house book case and shoe cubbies I had some fun. The boarder "broke" and the dinosaures came falling out.


The cold is beginning to settle in and it is time to change the closets around and figure what what we need for winter. Gloves, gloves, and mittens! I have to find another pair like I had last year -- those I found. Lined wool and so tight as to be almost waterproof. We had a few more snow showers yesterday which were driven by fierce winds, and some Dad told me that his peek into a farmer's almanac told him to expect 120 inches of snow this winter. Yes, I better get those gloves!

The weekend seemed to fly by -- I was still recovering from what the docs knocked me out with taking incredibly deep naps each day and then sleeping hard at night. David has been doing the cooking and cleaning up and my finger is absolutely dry. There is little pain unless I touch the incision spot and the bandage comes off on Friday. Can't wait. Never realize how important an index finger is.

We had our firsr Unitarian super on Saturday. Two families came over, bringing parts of our meal and we ate together. Althought we started off a bit apprehensive, it was a good time. We compared notes on Madison, on FUS, and on life in general. When they left I realized how many conversation starters we had not used. I still had lots of questions. We are going to try to go to one of the church pot lucks all together soon.

On Sunday, Julia and David spent the day together after church and I went to a party hosted by the Arc of Dane County. It was attended by about 450 people, many of whom have developmental disabilities. I am doing some education related work for this group but this was the first hands on volunteering I've done. And it is a good thing to be doing. I hope that I can help more in the future.

a few Julia things:

Julia made up a song this morning:

Meow, Meow, I am a kitty,
Meow, Meow, I am very pretty.

And sometimes,

Meow, Meow, I am darn pretty.

I don't know where she got the word "darn" from but she really got a tickle out of using it. She wanted me to listen to her song. She told me it rhymed and she also invited me to sing it and then proceeded to tell me that I sang it wrong.

Last night, we were doing out home work and I asked her to spell some words. I gave her the words -- ham, cat, hat, ants, hand -- and helped her sound it out and write it down. I am pretty sure they are doing this exact thing in school and Julia did not tell me it was too hard for her to do. I was so pleased that she took it on with such gusto.

27 October 2008


It is lightly snowing in Madison. I don't think it will stick. Time to break out the woolies and snuggle in front of a fire!

24 October 2008


Can't wait to write this down. Send up the fireworks. Tonight, Julia, working on a very hokie Mickey Mouse Kindergarten computer game, stuck with two number games for over a half hour!!!! One was putting numbers in order so that Donald could dance and the other was counting space ships and firing on them with that number. She didn't get it correct all the time, but she persisted and was so pleased when she got it. She accepted my help with counting the spaceships when there were more than 4 and was happy to figure out the number.

Let's go to Disney World and count!!!

On other fronts --

Julia and I had a cnoversation about my bandaged finger at bed time.

Julia: When I see your finger?

Me: I have to keep it in this bandage until next Friday. And then, we'll go to the doctor together and he will take it off. (She has off next Friday.)

Julia: I help him?

Me: You can ask, but I don't know if he will let you help.

Julia: I be doctor.

Me: That would be very nice.

Julia: I give kids medicine.

Me: Yes.

Julia: I make them better. I (she searched for this word) heal.

What a kid I have.

Julia has begun yawning regularly. It is not that she has never yawned before but she has done it very infrequently and only in a begrudging sort of way. I have notice in the last week or so that she snuggles with Daddy watching tv, gets a blanket on and then yawns almost luxuriously. It is so good to see her relax a little more.

Just a bit of a fantasy rant

It's over and all is fine. I can type with 3 fingers on my left hand, clumsy but manageable. I really can't drive -- not that I tried -- my head only wants bed. I am trying to wake my self up right now b/c I have a 9 am PTO meeting that I don't want to miss. It is true that the PTO is run by SAHMs and a few w/ very flexible schedules. I am one of them and we do take what we do very seriously. Today, is an exec meeting that decides about the PTO grant money. I have my opinions and favs among the submitted grants. I want to have my say. LOL. No question but that Julia belongs to me.

Now for the rant -- Front page of the NY Times today, above the fold, picture of Alan Greenspan with the caption: "Looking back in Disbelief. Testifying before a House committee almost 3 years after stepping down as Chairman of the Federal Reserve, AG admitteed that he put too much faith in the self-correcting power of free markets and had failed to antricipate the self-destructive power of wanton mortage lending, leaving himself 'in a state od shocked disbelief'" and just below that the headline: How McCain Hopes to Defy the Polls and Win.

What kind of drugs do these people take? Are they all delusional? This is more for AG than McCain (who I expect will fight until the last vote is counted as he should). But still, what kind of fantasy world is he living in? What kind of fantasy world do fiscal conservatives live in??? I dream about winning the lottery, but I don't expect the MBAs of this world to be warm and fuzzy and looking out for my best interest, let alone the best interest of those stupid people (and I use the word lovingly) who bought houses that there was no way in hell that they were going to pay off when their short term, low interest baloon mortgage expired. And now AG is shocked??? What part of greed and short view planning did he not understand. Some of us economically under-educated folks have been waiting for this shoe to drop for a while now. Our investments and pension plans have benefited greatly from the wall street crazies, but our own fiscally conservative views prompted us to make some allocation changes when we saw the writing on our very small wall. AG didn't see it long, long ago? I imagined his wall (as in writings on the . . . ) to be much broader than mine. Maybe wild and crazy free market is not what we need, maybe capitalism needs some boundaries.

And so, what is going to be proposed now? Is Bush going to send us another $600 check to get "us" through Christmas? I can't imagine that he will do anything to mar his relationships with the blue chip crowd or do much more that seek to lower capital gains tax and engage in some Raegan trickle down nonsense. Maybe it is time to pour money into fixing some of that infrastructure that is falling down around us. Maybe it is time to raise some taxes on that top 10% to support the creation of jobs and job training. And to those Joe-the-plumbers who harbor the dream that they are going to be in the economically gifted class very soon, open your eyes! Fight when you get there if you are so inclined, but consider the greater good. Consider our national community that is suffering right now. Consider that goodness, generosity, truth-telling and sacrifice are needed to heal what greed has wounded.

Should I sign this Suzanne the Socialist or Suzanne the Fiscal Realist?

On the home freont -- Julia helped me take off the IV bandage this morning and she was thrilled to check out the little hole. And I realized why snow sounds so incredible for this weekend -- we still have leaves on major big trees. I am still used to the orderliness of having all the leaves down before the snow. Ah, Wisconsin!

And my finger hurts. I better stop ranting, I mean typing.

23 October 2008

after the or

I can type with hand, but it takes forever. All went well but no driving at least for tomorrow. I am looking for a ride to a morninh PTO meeting.

Julia came w/ David to pick me up. She was very concerned & interested. She loved watching the nurse pull the iv needles out of my hand. She asked questions if it hurt & if it would bleed "bad." Kid is not squimish at all, just interested.

22 October 2008

Just a few things

Just a few things --

I finished the bathroom today. Record time for a room for me. The deep grey, which David calls dove but in which I can see green rather like the old black board color of my school days, looks good. No, this is not the tile and new fixture work that we wished to have done but for now, the walls are clean and with color and the grey looks very nice with the white base board and mid-wall trim. Getting rid of the ghastly blue trim around the window and on the mid-wall trim is wonderful. I took down the small useless towel racks and put up hooks -- small and silver colored -- which will serve much better to hang towels, clothes, etc.

Next, I'll work on the back hall and then the kitchen. Just repairing walls and paint, and some new storage things for the back hall.

Tomorrow, I am going to have a little bit of surgery. Just taking a cyst off a finger but I have been threatened with weeks off the key board. When the doc said that, I asked him how much pain there would be. After all, I typed a few days after breaking my wrist two years ago, I can't see how a slit in my index finger would be much worse, but it may explain my absence in the next few days.

Two pieces of news that set me turning around -- We received a notice from our insurance that we have almost reached our maximum number of therapy sessions for Julia for the year. It means that we must cancel almost all of our speech therapy and OT until January. I have been going very light on home work with Julia with therapy and lessons, feeling that she needs time at home to play. With a bit more time at home, we've started reading and letter work again and I think she was happy to be doing it. Slowly, she is getting better at sounding out words to spell. We did a sheet tonight that had pictures and a choice of letters to circle. The task was to circle the letter the picture/word began with. Apart from not knowing what two of the pictures were (ax and ??), she did them all correctly. She still needs me to sit with her and I think she will need that one-on-one for a long time. But I am so willing. It is amazing to see her work on a page willingly now. It is amazing to watch her figure something out and look to me to see if her estimated guess is correct before writing or circling.

I was rejected from the public defenders office after the last interview. I was really disappointed. My interviews were not bad and I was beginning to relish the idea of representing someone, many someones. I have not written here of each application, interview, and rejection, but there have been way to many in the past months. It is time to conceive of this search for employment differently. It seems that I am not going to find work through traditional methods, or possibly traditional work at all. Time to get out of the box and look around, retool and re-envision.

Ah, I did manage to teach my first sunday school class moderately well. I was a bit too nervous to enjoy it, but I expect I will get to enjoying very soon. I loved reading the near-relevant book to the kids and explaining the crafts. We made fall arrangements and pine-cone birdfeeders. We felt the change of seasons and enjoyed cheesets and grapes afterwards.

And my computer is again in the shop. It has been there for two days and I haven't yet received the call about the poor thing's condition. With one finger and a computer out of commission, I don't know how I will go on. :)

19 October 2008

Sunday AM

I found the camera, took pictures of Julia's room and her first incarnation as a kitty cat for last night's halloween dance at her school, BUT my laptop is acting up again. Has it been a month? So no pictures today.

Julia and I had a great day yesterday -- swimming, farmers market, painting the bathroom (and the gray color looks very cool!), and the school dance. Today, we have church and my first foray into teaching sunday school. Maybe we will rake some today or do more painting. It is beautiful outside -- yellow leaves rain down with every breeze. So romantic! Late afternoon, Julia has a swimming lesson and I will do laps.

We both miss David but he is living it up in NYC with Ches and we will see him tomorrow evening. I hope that he likes the bathroom.

18 October 2008

Recognizing a broken heart.

This morning Julia and I were watching Lilo and Stitch. When Stitch was looking at a book about family and was very sad that he did not have a family, Julia said to me, "Look at Stitch. He sad. His heart breaking."

17 October 2008

Friday check up

Julia has found a new character that she has fallen in love with. Angelina the Ballerina -- a British mouse who loves to dance and has very interesting adventure. Daddy, the wonder man, brought home two Angelina DVDs and we found an Angelina book at the library. Julia is dancing around the house as Angelina Julia. I admit liking Angelina very much. She has a best friend and a little cousin that she takes care of. There are "mean" girls about who are challenging to deal with for Angelina and a beloved ballet teacher (doesn't hurt that Judi Dentch does the voice over for the teacher). It is gentle and sweet. And we are always looking to tame our Spicy Dragon.

I have been meaning to take pictures of Julia's room. It is almost all complete. I have a few things to hang but most of it is done. Julia does like it a lot. We've started going upstairs for our bed routine earlier as it is getting darker and darker early. Last night, we played a game -- spill the beans -- before getting into bed for reading. Julia is really beginning to enjoy simple games. I was worried that that would never happen.

We had family therapy this week, and I still don't know about our shrink. He does not seem to have many ideas that we have not tried. He keeps telling me things that I know, and is still not very positive about having a good, or maybe a conventional, parent/child relationship when you adopt. We will keep him for now and see him every other week, but if I am not learning something new or I cannot see anything coming from his work with us by the end of the year, we will switch. Of course, that will mean fighting the insurance company for someone who is off their list.

I wrote a small PTO grant for a play social group. I have not found someone to teach/direct it, and I have no idea if the PTO will fund such a thing, but it is worth a try. Julia participates in a small group like this in school about a half hour a week. Increasing that time by another instance and another hour or so would serve her well. I know at least three other kids who are/were in her class that could use it. I am sure that we'd find another 3-6 in the rest of the school. If we could do it for free (with the grant), it would benefit these kids. Julia wants to have friends.

In Julia news, Julia pulled the fire alarm as we were leaving therapy. There is a first time for everything. I did not tell her not to do it because she never has shown the slightest desire to touch fire alarms. She is noticing things, smaller things, in her world these days. I guess the red box on the wall was suddenly for touching. I apologized over and over to the receptionists at the med center and then we left. As we got into the car, we could see that the whole building had emptied out. Julia was very sorry for all of the noise that she caused -- good that pulling the alarm had an effect that she didn't like. I don't think she will do it again.

But I am beyond embarrassment. What a wonderful lesson that child teaches.

Julia also is exploring feelings and is showing signs of empathy. She asks me all the time when I raise my voice if I am angry. This started a bit ago but esculates daily. She is also interested when I am happy or sad or if I hurt -- many times as a result of what she is doing. There there is a little book she brought home from school with faces and feelings. She is learning the word frustrated, and is all over the book on pronounciation. I explained the feeling to her and told her that I thought she was frustrated many times. She is now trying to use it, not always correctly, but she is getting closer to the mark.

Ginny reported that twice last week, Julia had a hard time settling into Math. Having a hard time doing math is a long running problem, but Ginny reports that once Julia has settled down, she is doing some of her math and seems happy with what she is doing. Oh, I hope so. I have not been working on math at all with her. We will count occasionally, often at times, but my goals center around reading and the home work we do is geered to that. One thing at a time seems to work the best around here, and so, we do different kinds of reading work and play games which is mainly about taking turns and working together and at the same time.

Another thing that was reported this week, by Christy this time, was that Julia seemed to be "with" them more often, that is, she was not as much in her own world and focused on what was going on in the classroom. I hope that one day Julia can tell me/us of the worlds she has lived in. With her imagination, it could be anything and anywhere. During my loneliest years -- middle school when I noticed that other people had friends -- I lived in an imaginary world, but mine was a loneliness in a life of plenty and in a life rich with inspiration from books and the media. What was and is hers?

Our big events this weekend, with Daddy visiting Cheshire in the Big Apple, are the Franklin dance tomorrow night, painting the bathroom and trying out paint in the kitchen and hall, and possibly carving pumpkins if we have time. Oh, and I have my first sunday school class to teach. Oh, and pictures!!!

11 October 2008

Saturday Cookie

It maybe just me but it seems that Julia has managed to find the biggest single cookie at the Farmers Market. She usually has permission to pick out one cookie, and I thought we were pretty safe saying tht she could have one, just one. However, over the weeks we have progressed for small oatmeal raisen cookies to ginger cookies to M&M cookies to this giant cow cookie that is iced in vanila and chocolate. Fortunately, there is only a few more weeks before it is too cold for our Saturday shopping, and who knows what they will be making next spring.
The balloon bunny made it through walking through the market, through lunch and the drumming show put on the Children of the Sun, but popped before we made it back to the car. Not easy being a balloon bunny.

09 October 2008

End of the week

It has been an interesting week. We had absolutely no therapy scheduled for this week (our speech therapist retired and our OT has no time) and David traveled with the court for three days. Julia did miss Daddy, one morning she woke up and asked, "Where is my good friend Daddy?"

At school Julia is still hitting -- grown ups and mostly those that she doesn't know well, not that this is a reason or excuse. We finally, finaly start our family therapy next week. I hope that the therapist can help us with this. I believe it is due to fear and control issues but I have no idea of how to more forward.

I bought some halloween lights -- bats -- and Julia and I put them up, as well as our scarecrow and cat from last year. Julia just loved it. She couldn't wait for the dark to turn on the lights. We remembered that she would go out for candy on halloween night although she has not really picked out what she wants to be yet.

We are having some remembering going on. The other night when I was putting Julia to bed she told me she was sad (and I think scared) that she lost her blue flip-flop. I had to remember myself what she was talking about. During out vacationing when we were at Lisa's house, Julia did indeed lose one of her blue flip flops when she and Sarah were tubing. At the time, Julia did not seem to register her loss and I was surprised because she liked those shoes a lot. Interesting that it comes out now.

More deepening of concentration as well. I see this in Julia's home work and even in her playing. Somewhere between the two -- the other night she and I put together a puzzle and she stayed very focused for a long time even though it was quite frustrating for both of us at times. We were working on it together and a number of times she bent over where I was to place pieces to help me or place her own pieces.

Thursday afternoon we had another violin lesson. It went better than the last one, still not perfect but getting better. I brought Julia home right after school and we did a schedule for the hour -- playing, writing, snack, cleaning up, and then violin. The schedule does center her and gt her ready to concentrate. And she did. She even remembered some things from last week. Lindsey gave her the "cigar box" violin that Suzuki kids start with and Julia was very proud of learning to hold it correctly. We are going to practice rest position and playing position. I continue to hold my breath about violin. It was so good for Cheshire, I would like it to be good for Julia. No, that is not set in stone, but I do hope it will work.

Julia is also touching my arm when she talks to me, a sweet gesture and one that feels very authentic to her. Her anger as it is directed towards me has diminished some and she is more loving. She is also spontaneously telling me that she loves me, not often, but sometimes.

08 October 2008

The hat ladies

On Sunday, Julia and David went to the church fall festival while I went to my UU class. Unfortunately, it was raining so the festival went inside but they enjoyed chilli and pizza which seem to be the main purpose of the festivities. Julia also was able to experience the hat ladies and she was so excited about her new hat!

The hat ladies arrange two big tables with long pieces of fleece and triangular pieces of fleece in all sorts of colors and patterns. A kid can pick out one long piece and 6 triangles for her hat. Then she hands it to one of the ladies sitting in back of sewing machines at the other end of the tables. That lady starts sewing and in the snap of a finger, blink of an eye the long rectangle and 6 triangles become a hat -- a rare and unique hat. Julia was very please with hers. I came to see David and Julia during a class break and it was just as the hat was finished. You would have thought the woman waved a magic wand, Julia was so excited. Good to see some everyday magic and sparkles and shines.

Julia is wearing her first pair of tie sneakers to school today. She needed real sneakers for gym but I have been dragging my feet because Julia can be so picky about foot wear.

04 October 2008

Pumpkin pickin'

We went to find pumpkins today at a farm. We rode in a wagon pulled by very large horses and were dropped off to find out perfect pumpkin. We found a few!
Julia made a very good pumpkin guard.
Julia visited with a turkey who ate all of the corn kernels that Julia could find to give him. And I wondered if he knew how close to Thanksgiving it is.

Swimming & Julia's view of life

Swimming lesson writing: I have been talking to the PTB at the Y and they are arranging for an aide to with Julia during her lessons. Her present teacher, Linda who is a spec ed teacher in her non-aquatic life, is also going to give Julia private lessons in addition to group lessons. My goal continues to be two-fold, that is, to have Julia learn how to swim, or how to do the stokes necessary for her to become a better swimming, and to teach her to learn within a group and participate in a group.

SO, towards those ends, I offered Julia two stickers if she (1) listened to Linda today, and (2) did what Linda asked. Julia is now at the point where I can tell her what I expect and then ask her what she is supposed to be doing and have her repeat, with help, what I told her to do. (Just this is an accomplishment considering that this kind of instruction, question, response was impossible last year at this time). She was primed and ready BUT Linda is not at lesson today! LOL. Best laid plans, and I hear the gods laughing.

In any event, there is a substitute, Loren, and only three kids in class today. Julia is trying right now to listen and keep herself controlled enough to do what she has been asked.

I need to be able to communicate with Julia over a long distance – I wonder if we should be learning some signs so that I can remind her to listen or to do as she is told. Can I get her to look at me when she feels herself loosing control? Is she that cognizant of how she is doing? Can I help her to be?

At home, Julia is asking me a lot of the time if I am angry or mad at her. She is more and more aware of my moods whenever I veer from center in the slightest. I can be stern, grumpy, direct, etc. – I find it hard to quantify my moment-to-moment emotional landscape. I search for words to answer her questions and wonder how many of them she understands. If it is necessary for her to quantify emotions in order to learn them, then I have to both understand myself and figure out what will translate to her.

I continue to read about trauma – two books, one a tome – and Julia’s behavior when she automatically greets every direction with a "no" and her hitting seems to fit that of kids who have suffered trauma. Not surprising at all. Now, can we heal her? She needs compliance and willingness to learn.

Thank goodness, she is so cute.

Julia brought home a paper the other day – an assignment regarding families. Families have been the ongoing theme for awhile. On the page was two drawing spaces – one for when Julia was a baby and one for now. Christy told me that she worked with Julia on this just to make sure that it was not too much for Julia or that it did not go into scary or bad places. On the baby side, Julia drew a baby crying in a crib on wheels. There was a big person in the picture as well but the person was not near the crib. Julia told Christy that when she was a baby, she was crying. Christy asked her if there were times that she did not cry or other things to put in the picture. Julia told her, no. baby Julia cried all the time. Christy, possibly not knowing how to respond and wanting to acknowledge in some positive way what she was told, said to Julia that sometimes, babies have a hard time and that life gets better when they get older.

The other side of the paper was crowded with people and things. Julia drew a happy pictures of herself, she drew her classmate Clare and Clare’s mom, she drew lots of toy – little pets of course. She told Christy that she is happy, that she has a friend in Clare, and that she loves her toys.

03 October 2008

Violin Lesson

Yesterday, Lindsey came and had a violin lesson with Julia. This was not like the last lesson in which I just brought Julia home from school, let her play with her toys and greeted Lindsey. Instead, I planned the time. I made a schedual with Julia. We had a little more than an hour to get ready for Lindsey. The schedule had playing, cleaning up, drawing, and putting away her school stuff. And then there was a drawing of a violin for her lesson. I told her that if she did the first four things she would get one sticker and if she was cooperative during her lesson -- if she listened to Lindsey and did what Lindsey asked her to do -- she would get two stickers. (We didn't get her behavior chart from school, so there was no possibility of getting a sticker from that, and I did not plan to do home work with Julia when we have an after school lesson.)

Julia first balked at the schedule -- what else would she do, she was allowed to play but didn't want to stop -- but I insisted that she put away her coat and back pack first and this gave her something to cross off on the schedule and one step closer to a sticker. She loves crossing out what she has done.

Then she decided to play and after 10 minutes, I gave her a 5 minutes warning, and then a 3, and then a 1. When I told her to stop, I asked her to draw. This was a no brainer transition (more fortunate than planned). I wanted her to draw on the cards that I was taping to her toy bins. The cards were to have words and pictures of what was in the bins. I have to say that she liked the assignment but was not as creative as usual with her drawing -- is this because I assigned it? She drew and together we taped the cards on the boxes. We had another thing to cross off. She cleaned her toys up with almost no protest at all, asked for a bread and butter sandwich, and we were read for Lindsey when she came.

With a clear livingroom with fewer distractions, Julia was able to listen to Lindsey. She was not perfect and she darted off at times to do or find something that seemed to her related to what Lindsey was doing. They listened to music together, learned to hold her violin, and learned to hold a play bow. We are edging closer to a real lesson.

I continue to read Temple Grandin amazed not only by what she has accomplished, but by her clarity, her ideas about education, her opportunities. I read to see how others influenced her -- parents, teachers, colleagues -- and see how important that influence was and is in her life. I take strength from how she 'turned out.' No single smidgeon of energy given to her was wasted. I know that my efforts with Julia are important. I am not always consistent, I do not always do everything possible, but I build every day a tower a little bit higher. I expect her to grow and change. And she does it.

01 October 2008


Julia and I went to choir tonight. This is her third rehursal and I am still wondering whether we should be there. Julia is interested but over stimulated, anyway I think that she is. She is unable to sit by herself although she sits pretty well with me. Her behavior appears more disabled than I have seen her, but . . . . but she is holding herself to gether to some extent and she seems to like being there. At the end of the rehursal, she said thank you and good-bye to the director, Heather. And she told Heather that she loved music.

Midway through the 30 minute rehursal, Heather took out chimes that she wanted to introduce. The children took turns playing the chimes and they sounded beautiful together. Julia took part in this and I could see that she loved the sound that the chimes made. And so, is this where we should be? I don't think there is a right answer on this one. I am just wondering.

Julia's class has been reading books by Kevin Henkes this week. I found some in the library and we have also been reading his books at bedtime. Today, Julia brought home a paper purse that she made -- based on one of Henkes' stories. Inside of the purse, Julia had drawn two mice which were recognizable as based on Henkes' characters. She also drew this incredible duck -- daisy duck -- dress in a dress and singing and dancing -- with notes above her head. The duck was carrying fan-like things in her hands. Julia has started coloring animals in many colors and some of her coloring seems to be deliberately dramatic.