31 December 2008

Last image of the year?

Picture by Matthew with his mom's camera. Not bad for an 11 year old. If only I could do as well!

Home Work 31 dec 08

I am going to keep closer track of Julia work at home by keeping a list.

1. went over 15 sight words and made 4 new words to start learning.
2. made sight words into sentences with addition of "house." Ex.: I am at the house, I am on the house, I am at a house, I am at that house, etc.
3. worked on 4 addition facts using item cards. Ex.: 1+1=2, 1+2=3, 2+2=4, 1+3=4
4. wrote name and three sentences. Sentences: No fo[o]d for me. Julia was hap[p]e[y]. I was

Later on, we went to the Y and went through most of Julia's lesson as half laps of the pool. We have not done this in a long time -- oh, very long -- and I can really see the progress the Linda, Julia's swimming teacher, has made. Julia understands much more of what she is doing. We worked on kicking, crawl stroke, crawl breathing, back float kick, back stroke. I didn't get to do jumping and diving because I wasn't allowed in the deep end with Julia (lifeguard of the day rule). Julia does her laps with floats on and some of it with a kick board or noodle so that she can concentrate on what her extremities are doing instead of staying afloat.

30 December 2008

short update

A full day and a busy one. Marcia and Matthew came for a visit. We had a little Christmas with them. Matthew gave Julia a dinosaur magnadoodle that is cute beyond measure. Marcia gave her a giantic marble run kit. Julia has had so much fun with both and so have Marcia and I. I think we are both latent engineers. Julia loved seeing Matthew and Marcia. She wanted their attention and wanted to try to talk with them. She can do more than she could last Christmas and last 4th of Julia, but her communication still needs translation and there is always a need for others to get used to her behavior.

I pled my case ot the insurance appeal board in the hope of getting them to reverse the denial of coverage for an attachment therapist. I should hear by the 10th of next month. I know of three other kids who are covered by our insurance for the provider that I have asked for. I have been told that approval is on a case by case basis. The presentation part of the appeal was enjoyable -- if Julia's therapy was not riding on the decision it would have been fun.

28 December 2008


Time to get ready for the new year! I am a big one for setting goals, making changes, awaking dreams. Yes, many of them fall flat -- how many times have I wanted to lose weight and get in shape. Too many times to count -- at least as many as there have been years in my life. But sometimes I get closer, closer to all those things that would make a more perfect me.

Health and fitness, more educational engagement with Julia, spiritual searching for me, once again writing, a path that includes economic advances, and meaningful social engagement -- so far that is what is on my list.

27 December 2008

Eye contact at the mall

We went to the Mall to exchange the ipod that Cheshire gave David for the ipod that David really wanted. I don't take Julia to malls often for two reasons, I hate shopping and really can't stand malls, and then there was a time when Julia's sensory issues made malls off limits. I haven't been working at extending Julia's mall time and she may always be mall challenged.

A Chinese dance troup is coming to Madison and a Chinese woman in a lovely costume was handing out flyers in the Mall. Julia and I went over to get one. Julia had a hard time looking at the woman -- an eye contact moment -- I want to figure out what I can do to make her more comfortable or able to deal with eye contact better. This is the second time -- the first was with Santa -- when a social situation that Julia wanted to enter into was made harder for her.

The woman noticed that Julia was Chinese and asked if she was from China. I told her, yes, and that she came to the US two years ago. The woman said something in Chinese to Julia. Julia piped up with her name and asked the woman hers. I asked if she had asked Julia her name and the woman nodded. Julia has lately developed a big interest in names (after two years of hardly noticing that anyone had a name) so the woman's question and Julia's answer may have been coincidental, but this is not the first time that Julia has shown some understanding of Chinese.

The woman touched Julia's cheek and said, 'lucky girl.' I've heard that before, of course, but it was very much sweeter this time.

26 December 2008


This is an air ship that little kids are riding in and either a mommy or a teacher is pushing. These children all all happy.

Edit on 1 jan 08. As we were reading Horton hears a Who last night, I noticed in a picture of Whoville a mother Who pushing her family in a carriage that looked very much like what Julia drew. The carriage was not an air ship but expressions, numbers of kids, and positions were a real copy. Doesn't make it less of anything for me. I am very happy she is seeing and remembering and can reproduce things that she sees.

Christmas Day

Christmas was quiet and just perfect for us. Julia managed to open one of her presents, and only one, before we picked up Cheshire at the airport, and still be very happy. She did scope out all of the packages before we let her open one and she knew which ones had her name on it. I okay her opening the biggest box with her name on it and sure enough, Santa had brought her the little pet town that she had been asking for since the early fall. We could have stopped there and her day would have been complete! Driving the the airport for Cheshire and bed time were the only things that stopped her from playing.
Most of the pets that are on the 'town' are from Julia's collection and yes, there are many, but they represent that amount of home work she has done since last Easter. She had needed to get 10-16 stickers for each pet or pet set. So her collection is such a look into her work and our time together.

Cheshire arrived home and were we ever happy! Her play took off and landed on time, but they sat on the tarmak of our little Madison airport (very pretty place, BTW) for almost 45 minutes waiting for a gate to open up. Once we got her home, we closed ranks, ate, talked, and walked the dog a few times.

Julia was so excited to see Cheshire, but she had a minute or so of not being able to look at her. She walked a bit away, flapped and figited, and then went to give her a hug and kiss. I want to know what this feels like -- I know it is uncomfortable -- and how and when to work to change it, but only if possible and only to make her more comfortable (and more acceptable when that is really important). Julia chattered on to Cheshire for ever! Much of what she said made sense but most of the time she talks without context, making it almost impossible for anyone not living with her to figure out what is going on.

We opened gifts and ate our antipasto after Cheshire got settled. Julia was thrilled to get the game Operation (but it seems to be too hard for her, we'll try again today before putting it away for a little while), she was not thrilled with a new dress. This is a real change from her old Chinese girl mentality. Our American Julia did not hug the dress to her and thank us over and over, she was very happy with her toys.

Julia gave us each presents that she made at school. She had three little wraped packages and one slightly larger box that was wrapped with brown paper, drawn on, and topped with a green 3D gingerbread man. So, she have out the smaller ifts -- I got a beaded key chain and a little piece of non-representational art painted on wood; David got two fairy/animals that seemed to be appropriate to hang on the tree. Cheshire's gift was 6 narrow sticks -- like pick up sticks-- that were painted in pretty pastels. For some reason, I really love that sticks -- so simple, so neat. Julia also decided to give the larger box to Cheshire -- she was kind of confused when we asked her about it. We didn't know why, but when Cheshire took the wrapping off the package, she found an empty box. Julia could not explain and we could not figure out the why of the empty box, but it was wrapped very well. LOL. I was so very proud of Julia for sharing her work with us, and even if the gift making and giving was totally prompted by her teachers, she understood the concept and seemed happy at all of our praise.

Julia has been off any kind of schedule for a few days now, and behavior at the end of the day is not easy at all. I am hoping to get back into gear today, even though it will be mostly an indoor day with more snow expected to start falling soon.

I took only a few pictures, mostly just enjoyed our time, but I did snap some of David's figgy pudding. I post those later and give a bit of explanation.

25 December 2008

And the little chubby old elf arrived . . . .

. . . and presents await the arrival of she flying in from Brooklyn. We tremble with joy!

24 December 2008

Christmas Eve Evening

Daddy made the figgy pudding.
Julia made sure that every dinosaur had the proper holiday cheer.
We lit and tended a warm winter's glow.
And stockings were hung with the upmost care.Will Santa really come down this chimney . . . .
When the best present is already under the tree.
But in case Santa has a few packages to bring, some muffins and biscotti will be waiting for him.
Happy Christmas.

Christmas Eve

More snow. No news that one. This second it is falling perfectly in sizable fluffy flakes while the Nutcracker plays and Julia draws pictures of dancers on her white board. The temperature is warmed than it has been and these flakes has piled themselves neatly on branches of trees -- we don't get that tree laden look when the temperature is colder (Is that true?). David comes from upstairs and comments, "what a perfect snow fall." So, time to go outside and blow some away from walks and driveways. David is trying his hand at figgy pudding and Julia is determined to remain in her pjs with wild hair for as long as she can today.

23 December 2008


Julia and I are mostly inside for this week due to cold and snow. Today, we are beginning a new snow cycle -- Maybe I should just say storm but it is suppose to go through out the day and into tomorrow which feels a bit long for a storm. There are short pauses in the falling snow, but the sky keeps to its grey that promises more.

We went to the mall to visit Santa yesterday. The line was short and Julia was very ready. She was incredibly excited and we rehursed what she should say -- She was asking for a little pet shop house, and she would wish Santa a merry christmas -- but when she was within asking range, she was overwhelmed with excitment and could not say a thing. She did a lot of flapping and babbled on about everything except what she wanted to Christmas. She did manage to sit on Santa's lap and we got a picture. When Julia got off Santa's lap, she managed to wish Santa a Merry Christmas but she could not look at him.

We have not found a good house schedule for this vacation and since Julia is happiest using a schedule, we are not as happy as we could be. I would like to be consistent with home work time, time outside the house, playing, and doing some Christmas activities. I'll try again today but there always seems to be something that has to be done right now and today, and then again, I am also trying to clean.

21 December 2008

Sunday revelation

Tonight, laying in bed after I turned off the light, Julia told me that she didn't feel "good well" -- as new compound word for her. I asked her what hurt, stomach, throat, head, etc. and she said no. "Mommy, I am very angry. Very mad and not feeling good well." My girl, my girl. Is this a discovery for her? Did she understand anything of what she said? Is she growing in understanding? I hope that our working together and the therapy we hope to begin soon helps and she can be a happy girl much more often than she is now.

19 December 2008

Decorating the house

I started off doing this page by opening all my pretty blue papers and white snow flakes, but I guess our snow, our house, and our lives are a whole lot more the off greens and reds and faded snow flakes. I wouldn't have it any other way!

Snow! Snow Day! Significant Snow!

I went to bed last night and the streets were dry. The sky was pregnant with what would come but not a flake was falling. This morning we woke up to inches and inches -- I think at least 8 right now and still falling. Thank goodness, and my mother, for our snow blower. David and I got out a bit after 6:30 and dug and blew his car out of the driveway so that he could open the clerks office. I don't know if he will be the only one in work today, but the Supreme Court of Wisconsin will be open for business! I also plowed a thin path on our sidewalk because I was scared if the snow got much deeper that I would not be able to use the snowblower. Yes, it is that deep.

The snow still falls, prediced to fall until at least noon. I have a meeting to go to this morning, but with Julia home and the roads impossible, I will see if I can phone in. Julia does have her extra day of vacation and this is a "warmer" snow. We should be able to play after the walk clearing in done. I took the weather guys seriously and did a quick food shopping yesterday -- the predictions are for snow today and then another storm tomorrow over to Sunday -- so we are well laid for the long haul with hot cocoa and the makings of oatmeal cookies.

Julia and I have the tree to put up and decorate. I had thought we would do it on the weekend, but we will start today. I have some craft projects that we can do and hang.

Regarding the tree, last weekend, we put it on the unheated porch in a bucket of water to keep it fresh. The water froze and I had to bring the whole thing in yesterday so that the block of ice on the bottom of the tree would melt.

17 December 2008

My friend mommy

Today, I mail off my baked and boxed Christmas gifts. It took me most of the day yesterday to pack them up and now they are on their way. I love the baking especially because it is for those that I care so much about, but there is always a slight bit of stress as to whether I will finish in time and how it will all fit together. I also delived boxes to teachers and helpers at school. I did it today and did not wait until later. We are expecting "significant" snow tomorrow and I did not want to be caught short. I have a bit more shopping to do tomorrow which I will try to do early. I am not going to depend on Friday for anything but blowing that snow. I fully expect that school will be cancelled and that Julia will have an extra day of vacation.

A sweet note. I gave a box of cookies to our crossing guard. I did the same thing last year because frankly, I was pretty lonely last year and I appreciated so much having someone to wave to or say good morning to at the beginning of each day. I realized when I gave it to him today that I am a bit less lonely here. It was a nice recognition.

Julia and I went to Annie, our OT, after school. Because of insurance we are only seeing her once this month, but it was good to check in. Annie was feeling like she was seeing afresh because of the month gap in our visit, and I too was seeing Julia behavior in a different way. She was impulsive and tried to be very controlling with Annie. She just about barrelled into Annie's therapy room and went straight for a closet where she knows that activity boxes are stored. She knows that she is supposed to sit and make out a schedule with Annie but she did not pay attention to directions. She had to be physically moved from where she did not belong time after time, but she did not make the fuss that she has made in the past when she was taken away from what she wanted to see.

Now, Julia can be this impulsive and hard to control but she is not like this all the time. To some degree she can control this behavior when she is at home and at times in school, and it is the range of behavior -- sometimes controlled and appropriate, and sometimes impulsive and hard to reach -- that puzzles me. I plan to take note of when and where and hopefully why will begin to raise its head. How will attachment therapy change this?

Next year, Annie and I plan to work on giving Julia ways to control the impulsive, quick, darting behaviors. I am not exactly sure how, breathing makes sense but I wonder how we will get her to take those breaths.

Julia closed the day so perfectly. I mean, she couldn't have planned it better. We had been writing a few sentences that either she or I make up. Tonight, her final sentence was "I like my friend Mommy." She was very excited to write it. Oh, I had to hug the kid.

My commenters

Thank you to those of you who leave comments. I am always so surprised that people are reading my blog even though that was what I hoped would happen when I started it. For all my whining and complaining, I so believe in older child adoption and I hope that my blog offers encouragement to those who are considering. I am also so grateful for advice and support -- this road is a tough one to travel alone as so many of those who comment know. However, I do find it hard to figure out how to reply efficiently to comments. Any ideas on that?

Again, thank you.

It was so hard writing that account of our step back yesterday. All I can figure out this morning is that I have been so intent upon our progress. I have believed that as long as we are moving forward, nothing about Julia's behavior or her condition was permanent -- we would make up for all delays and we would eventually have a normal child. The ambiguity of the unknown is just too hard to wrap my head and heart around. But I know that it is always one step forward, one step back, and I know that there are no guarantees. And I know that a really normal child would be really confused in this household.

I am off to deliver and mail my baked Christmas boxes, and do a little shopping, and go to a meeting, all after a good blowing of the snow that fell last night. I need to do what I can today because they are talking about a "significant" storm coming tomorrow. Obviously, three or four inches has very little significance.

16 December 2008

One step back

We seem to have taken a step back in time yesterday. Julia and I have been having a pretty good time doing our home work. Julia is usually pretty cooperative and I have been congratulating myself on how well we work together. Too much self-congratulations has obviously attracted the ire of the gods and they have ordered a self-correction.

One of the things I have been doing with Julia is to put letters in alphabetical order. Even though Julia knows her alphabet, and knows the sounds of the letters, and sings the ABC song, putting the letters in order is a struggle for her. So we started with 3 letters and have been working our way up. We were at 10 letters yesterday and I asked Julia to get started on putting them in order when were were in the kitchen baking. I thought that we could do some work in a room we didn't usually work in and at a different time.

Julia was not in the mood to put letters in order. I tried to get her to sing the ABC song so that it would be easy to put the letters in order. I didn't mean the exercise to last very long but Julia refused to put letters in order or to sing. I pressed and sometimes it works to get her to do some work. Not yesterday. She dug her heels in and absolutely refused to do what I asked. She hasn't done something like this in such a long time that I did not recognize the behavior. I escalated the argument because that was what it had become by this time -- I was frustrated and just wanted her to do what I asked her to do. I told her that either she sing or she could go upstairs to bed.

And she chose bed.

She went upstairs and changed into pjs and went to bed. I went up and tried to convince her to sing and come downstairs again. David came home and convinced Julia to come downstairs but when I asked her to sing or put her letters in order, she returned upstairs. Julia was kinda miserable but so stubborn. David finally decided that we should just bring her downstairs to eat dinner, and I decided to forget about our tasks.

Julia came down stairs. She was both repentant and victorious. I saw it as a step backwards, not that I want to break her fierce will but that I had lost her trust. She needed to win and that makes me sad. That she was repentant was a good thing. She snuggled with me, she gave me tastes of her food, she gave me extra attention and kisses. It is good that she wanted me to feel better.

Today, we did some home work. It was shorter than usual and I did not push her like I usually do. I did not want to go to where were got to yesterday.

14 December 2008

Adult holiday party

We went to a mostly adult holiday party yesterday, and we let Julia loose. Not that we had the choice. If we were going to be there, and she was going to be there, she would make her own way among the guests. She greeted people, asked names – some many too many times -- and questions. She interrupted and spoke out of turn. She add to conversations with her own ramblings that make sense only of you know the movies that she has currently been viewing or the books that we have read over and over or the dinosaurs and animals that she has played with in the last few days. But she moves through the crowd so confidently without allowing the judgment of others to make any different in her behavior. She is not afraid to make a fool of herself, not afraid to approach the wrong person, not afraid to have nothing to say. Maybe it is her autism that gives her such strength, maybe it is not. Part of me hopes that she learns more appropriate social manners before she realizes that she may be offending, part of me wishes that I could live in such a present and greet the whole world without the burdens of ego.

There were two kids at the party – a first grader, Dex, who is a beautiful, charming, mannerly, creative and smart child, and his sister, who has just started middle school and who was polite and social and did not act bored at all when the adults ask her about school. These two kids reminded me so much of Cheshire at those ages. Kids who are used to grownups and their get togethers. It makes me realize how different this parenting experience is. What also reminded me of Cheshire was the way that these two kids reacted to Julia – with kindness, patience, and tolerance. Watching them, I wished for a big sister for Julia, one who was kind and gentle with her, one who challenged and supported her. Someone who Julia could look up to but still be a kid.

13 December 2008

About Friday

Yesterday, I was in Julia's class. They did not do writers' workshop, instead the kids finished up a wood working project. They nailed and glued, designed and painted. I helped where I could although I was a total washout when it came to choosing wood to nail. I know so little about that world. I kept wishing that they had all balsa wood instead of interesting scraps that were a pain to work with. LOL. None of the kids thought so however. Lots of planes, jets and bombs from the boys – I am sure a number of peace loving moms would be appauled at what their boys wanted to make – some more abstract decorative things, and some houses. Julia made a house. She was in the painting/staining stage yesterday. The idea of a stain didn't resonate with her at all, and who can blame her. Paint should cover everything. Right?

Before the wood working, Ginny took her little troup of 5 on a walk around the building carrying different shaped sand bags. Addressing the sensory issues, some of the kids complained about carrying anything, but most arrived back at their classroom ready to work. Yesterday, Julia's distracted behavior was the worst of all of them. She was not able to listen to any directions and did not sit, stand or walk when told. Amy, who is not her full time aide this year, guided her and manipulated her. Once Julia got settled in her wood working, she was fine and did her work. On the positive side, Julia is willing to try, willing to engage in experiences, and for all her getting angry, grumpy, and disappointed (all her words), she does not complain as much as her sensory peers.

I couldn't help but come away with the feeling that I could teach her as much at home. I can hold her attention for a longer time without needing to cut through as much distraction. My homeschooling friends will giggle at me. I am not yet teady to give up the system, especially considering how much Julia needs to learn about socialization and interacting appropriately, but it is an idea that is taking root. At times, even over my better judgment.

Watching Julia's behavior also reminded me of David's suggestion to try Ritilan. I am sure we could find a doc to give it to her. And that brings up another thought. Even asking for attachment therapy instead of traditional family therapy is our, read my, choice. Who am I and what do I know to make such a diagnosis and ask for such treatment. I know only what I've read and what is in my gut, and I don't mean to devalue my gut, but finding professional advice is still hard to come by. I think of all of the professional we have dealt with and not one of them has given me advice on the whole child. The social worker check ups at 6 months and one year said that Julia appeared very normal (and these were two different social workers), we have asked for referrals from her pediatricians without their input, the International Clinic we visited saw nothing wrong, the Waismen Clinic saw only autism, Lance was willing to entertain anything that we suggested but after 4 visits had no advice. Marilyn, who we hope will be our attachment therapist after the insurance appeal, asked us who diagnosised Julia with attachment issues. The answer had to be that we did. And I asked who should have? In my naïve trust in professionals, I expected that our IA clinic exam would suggest a number of needs a child might have – oh, how wrong I was. So, I am brought full circle and wonder at what point we should consider something like Ritilan? If Julia could concentrate and attend to what she was directed to attend to, she would progress lots faster than she does now. But I have no idea what would happen if she was given the drug and then become more hyper for even a short time. My thought right now is that if we don't see progress after 6 months or so working with Marilyn, we look at the drug route. I want to be sure that the ABA intensive autism therapy is the right way to go if and when a slot comes open for Julia. We still have more than a year on the waiting list and so this is our time frame. The ABA therapy will be an incredible commitment of time – 20-35 hours a week outside of school. It will mean giving up almost all other outside activities so I want to be as sure as I can be that it will be the right thing for her.

11 December 2008


How embarrassing is this? I have to admit that I lost my camera in the house -- on the first floor exactly. I put it down on Friday and couldn't find it until Tuesday. And yes, it was in a very conspicuous place. Up side is that once again I can post pictures.
Julia getting ready for the snow.
Julia in the snow although she is so buried in those clothes that it might be another child. Julia doing her writing work and looking quite satisfied with herself.

All hail silly games!

Chicago is a tough place to be from. Does every and any opportunity to make a buck spawn corruption? Is everyone on the take? If there is a time to storm the heavens, it is now and it is to beg and pray that our new president is indeed above the fray. I would hate to even think that he is part of the ol' boy network in Chicago. It would disappoint a newly empowered electorate at a time when our electorate needs to believe in heros and hope. It would disappoint all of us who believe.

Julia and I have increased out home work time in the evenings. She is working hard because each work day brings another sticker to "show" to Santa in the hope that he will leave a Little Pet Shop Fitness Center (yeah, really.). We are doing dictation together. One of us makes up a simple sentence -- Julia is very excited about making up the sentence although many of hers are very long and rambling (yeah, she is my kid.) -- and she sounds out the words with my help and writes it. Her spelling can be all over the place but she is writing both vowels and consonents and remembers a capital in the beginning and a period at the end. Last night, I had her put a finger between words to separate them and make them easier to read and I think she was happy with the result. It is amazing to thing that last spring -- April or May -- I was trying to get her to trace a page of strokes, shapes, and letters, all of which meant very little to her, and now she is trying to write sentences.

She has also learned 15 sight words and we are adding more. We make felt flash cards on which I make raised letters. Julia likes to feel them as well as see them and I think this extra sensory element has kept her interest in learning them. She is very proud of herself for this work and work it is. I have finally found the knack for making flash cards a game, something that I wish I had when Cheshire was trying to learn her "word within a word" cards in 7th and 8th grade. Sorry, Ches. I was trying.

We have been using the Dr. Suess Kindergarten Games every night for a little while. As a big Suess fan, Julia never tires of the songs and silly rhymes. Last night, she spent about 20 minutes doing an addition game. It is not quite addition yet -- she puts the assigned number of fruit in each of two wheelbarrels and then counts up the number of fruit and clicks on the number on a number line. Doing this, it is clear that she understand counting (at least up to 15), that there is a one to one relationship between an item and the number assigned to it (I am not be explaining this clearly but it has been hard for Julia to realize this), and that she can recognize and use the written numbers. All hail silly games!

Two things that Julia needs to work on and I have not found the key to working on it -- putting things in order and patterns. I will ask Annie next week when we see her and hopefully we can work on these things in OT beginning again in January.

09 December 2008

Snow Day!

It snowed all last night -- a wet heavy snow that takes effort to move. David heard the snow day on the radio and let Julia and I sleep. Julia obliged until almost 7 o'clock. Right now, we are having hot oatmeal, watching Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind, and waiting for the full light of day. It is predicted to snow most of the day, and get colder as the day goes on. We'll bundle up and go out to blow and clear snow at least twice today.

And ah, the fun of being caught inside and cosy on such a day.

08 December 2008

Snow and sleet tonight -- possibly 6 inches during the night and another 3 tomorrow during the day. Ah, Wisconsin.

Julia is now doing matching games with 30 or so choices. Her technique is not the most efficient, but from what she chooses, I can see that she remembers where matches are, and that she is trying to figure out a more efficient way to find the matches.

Then there is sledding. Last year, we put Julia on a sled and pulled her around and she was completely bored. She had no yearning to go down hills and just wanted to get off and get inside the house. Today, she saw a Dad pulling his two kids on a plastic tobbogan and asked if she could ride on a "snow boat." I wan't sure what she was talking about at first, but when I figured it out, I told her sure. Tonight, we were watching TV and she saw kids sledding down a hill and chattered on about it. I think she will get the chance very soon.

I went to my first cookie exchange on Sunday. Ummm . . . getting very midwestern. It was fun, very low key, and just women. Maybe I do fit in here.

06 December 2008


Playing various computer games, I have noticed that Julia is not good at putting things in order. She can sing and recite the alphabet but cannot fill in the blanks when there are missing letters, or numbers for that matter, in a row. So, I took out some letters and we worked with putting A, B, C, D in alphabetical order. We tried over and over with me coaching her. Nothings seemed to work and she could not seem to do it. Then, I started to tell her that her order was wrong when it was. That was what she needed. Some black and white on my part! Once I was letting her know what was right and wrong it took her three times to put those letters in order without my help. And she did it quickly.

I think she had no idea what it meant to put letters in order -- sometimes there seems to be such gaps in what she understands. She doesn't let on that she doesn't understand but once she gets it, she has no trouble doing it. I don't think it is inability, I am almost sure it is not inability.

She is having the same problem with patterns. I have to find a way to explain working with patterns.

My girl who would not wear pjs and then would only wear nightgowns has turned a fashion corner -- well, a sleeping fashion corner. Brought on by the winter, I dare say. She like pj bottoms and tee shirts! And just tee shirts if it is warmer. (And thank you, Sarah Grace and Lisa, for handing down a stack of Sarah's old tees) Of course, I have only two pj pants, but we can do this.

More snow expected today. We are doing our Saturday swimming and then maybe a visit to the Mall to find Santa and ask him for the Little Pet Shop House before we do our massive food shopping. I have got to get geared up for baking next week! Yes, it is Christmas time.

04 December 2008

social butterfly

It is cold. It has snowed. It is Madison.

We are having a problem in the mornings getting Julia to put on her snow pants and her heavy winter jacket. This morning it took her going outside without her coat to decide to put it on. And snow pants . . . went in the backpack this morning. Comparing notes with other parents waiting for school to get out this afternoon, Julia's refusal to put on winter clothes puts her right on par with her peers. No one wants to wear snowpants!

Last weekend in Maryland, Julia asked everyone their names and used names often when she was talking to people. She did ask Jan his name about 1000 times. I am not sure why but she would ask Jan's name when she was getting ready to talk with him, then say the name and what she wanted to tell him. But it was as if, Jan's name was going from ear to mouth without registering in her brain. After the 1000 questions, I started to ask her what Jan's name was and the brain did make it into the loop.

Today, we were walking the dog after school when we ran into the two kids who live on the next corner and two friends of theirs. Julia asked each of the kids their names and tried to engage them in conversation. The Dad of two of the kids asked the name of our dog and Julia told him. She did not look at him or make any eye contact but she was listening and she answered. Julia, being herself, was a bit too much as she was trying to talk to these kids and these kids, two of whom have been pretty unfriendly in general, just stood there like duds. Julia didn't seem to care and chattered on. When I asked her to move on, the Dad moved his kids inot the house. Julia said good-bye to each child using their names. Whoa, the kid who asked Jan his name so many times last weekend, remember the names of 4 kids after hearing those names once.

02 December 2008


Before I post the monthly pictures of Julia, I sometimes wonder what picture will surface and seem significant to me. At times there was more than one that I just love and it is hard to chose; at times I almost wish I could pick something from another month. This month the picture picked itself! Julia has consented to wear braids!

As her hair has been growing, Julia is less than willing to have it combed several times a day which is what it would take to have it looking good. She has no interest in learning to brush it herself. All this is just like her older sister -- that love of long hair and total disregard for what it looks like really seems to run in this family and I admit to the same habits myself. I learned early that days and days of barely brushed hair does not pay and that threats of cutting only rouse the furies and do little to get the job done. And oh! Long hair can look so awful so quickly and wind up collecting sticky substances and impede important school work.
This was solved pretty early with Cheshire -- she wore and liked braids. I learned how to french braid and was able to really keep things relatively neat and good looking for years. BUT until this Thanksgiving, Julia would have no part of braids. Part of this is due, at least I think, to the fact that no one combed and brushed her hair when she was younger. The solution in China to unruly, insect hiding, dirt collecting hair is to shave it off. No one needs to fuss with shaved heads. As her hair has grown, it must feel very intrusive to have her parents washing and brushing and combing and putting in clips, elastics and bows. One of Julia's favorite getting ready for bed activities is to take out any hair ornaments and rub her head free.

Whenever I have tried to braid her hair, she complained and yelled and refused to sit still, but this past weekend was different. I put in braids every day and she liked it. She got plenty of praise for pretty hair and I think it might have been a relief for her to get that hair out of her eyes and away from her mouth during meals.

And she looks so cute!

01 December 2008

A good time was had by all

This is our Thanksgiving gang. Just notice who is dead center. Need anyone wonder who had the best time of all?