Thursday, January 30, 2014

the many faces of Lola...

I never know what I'm going to find when I go to download pictures from my cell phone.

My kids pretty much grab hold of my phone whenever I'm not looking. I discourage it with Millie, but Lola's old enough where I mostly trust her not to break anything or download anything. She mostly uses it to play a few games and to take pictures.

This week, I found her first-ever batch of "selfies."

And I just thought I'd share them here. I was going to edit them and choose a few but then decided I liked to look at then all together, in order.

She's such a sweetheart.










Here's looking at you, Kid(do). Love you.
- Bethany :)

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Party!

Last week, we made another trip out to Lola's school to celebrate the end of their class learning project (their expedition).

They've been working on learning about their school, the people who work there, and what ut means to be part of a community.

Lola had been looking forward to this party for weeks. So when the night finally came, I was a little surprised to have her greet me at the door in tears.

"I don't want to go," she said, crying.

Um....  what?

After about 15-20 minutes of slowly, carefully prodding and questioning, I was pretty sure I figured out the issue.  I didn't write about it at the time, but at Lola's first conference in November, she had a bit of a meltdown. I'm fairly sure it was because she fell asleep in the car on the way there (she is so her mother's daughter...) and she was out of sorts when we got to the school. She came out of it eventually, but it was a bit of a struggle initially.

Last week, I think she convinced herself that the "party" was going to be like conferences, which as hers are student-led, meant she had to talk and lead the discussion between her parents and her teacher, about what she does well and what she could do better, etc.

After about 15-20 minutes I convinced her this wasn't the case and it would be fun.

She wasn't sure, but agreed that she wanted to go for the treats.

Once we got there, though, she dove right in.

She was so happy to share with us all the projects they've been working on and what she's learned.

 
***

Her "first" self-portrait. Which wasn't really first, but the first polished one. One of the things theywere working on was how to do drafts of something, to learn how to make it better, to improve. This was rather neat, I thought.

***

Another lesson was learning about the school and the people who work there. To do that, they learned to interview people. Because I do what I do, I got to visit a few months ago and help with that just a little bit.


They then each interviewed a staff member, did a report, and they were then compiled into books.
 
***

Another component was learning the campus. It's a unique campus.

So the students were all invited to use tools to explore their surroundings and to, eventually, draw several maps (again, in drafts) of the campus to learn the important places at the school.




It was a fun little evening.

I loved hearing -- and seeing! -- everything she's been working on. To see what interests her, what gets her excited, that is always fun.

- Bethany :)

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

slumber party!


As Lola prepared for her choir concert last week, I promised her: If you do a great job and don't cry or have a meltdown, Mommy will have a sleepover with you Friday night.

Honestly, I never expected the reaction.

She asked me hourly when our slumber party would be, what we would do, and how much fun it would be. Would we do hair? Makeup? Play games? Read books?

As it turned out, it snowed. Or was supposed to snow. So Ray had to work late. So my plans for a sleepover in Lola's room for just me and her quickly changed.

Instead, we pulled all the blankets to the floor and the living room and had a girls night, with Millie too.


We had a super fun evening. Watching a movie and snuggling on the floor.

I kind of wimped out and didn't actually sleep in Lola's room (she was a little disappointed but then  got her own iPod time to listen to Frozen music so all was good). And we never did get around to popcorn and fingernail-painting (or toes).

We just hung out, talked, laughed and played.

 We had a lot of fun.


So much so, in fact, Lola is now constantly asking me when the next one will be.
- Bethany :)

Friday, January 17, 2014

* fingers crossed *

I wonder if stalking the UPS Tracking page is like waiting for a pot of water to boil, like the delivery you're waiting for won't arrive if you're hitting refresh every 2-3 minutes...

It's coming!

I think I'm more excited for this than Christmas.

Today, or so I hope, so they've said, Millie "talker" will arrive.

Or, her Augmentative and Alternative Communication device (her AAC).

It will cost us more out of pocket that we'd hoped.

But, I can't wait.

I am honestly pacing. Well, that's not true. I'm at my desk, waiting for my work day to start. So I'm finger pacing (is that a thing?), tapping my fingers randomly on the keyboard, on the desk, hitting refresh constantly on the UPS site.

I woke up at 3 a.m. for some reason. Half-asleep, I still managed to check my phone, checking the UPS site to make sure it got to Minneapolis...

I know it won't instantly solve all of our communication battles.

I know I'm not going to be able to simply hand it to her and she'll suddenly be flying across the buttons, telling me about her day, her hopes, her dreams, why she hates having any kind of shoe on her left foot, why she only likes to eat muffins and coffee cake, why she screams when I turn off the lights at bedtime but screams louder when I try to turn on a nightlight...

But I know she could.

All in due time.
- Bethany :)

UPDATED: It's here!

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Do you want to build a snowman?

Yep, she did!


We're having what feels like an abnormally cold winter. Meaning that it's been so cold we haven't been able to get out to actually enjoy the snow that we have. Or, at least, not often enough.

But this past weekend, it was a rather pleasant winter day.

So Ray and Lola went outside to make a snowman.


I didn't watch as much as I'd have liked, but I was busy in the kitchen making dinners, lunches, and breakfasts for the week.

But every time I poked my head out there, Lola was smiling.

It looked like a fun afternoon.

His name?

Olaf, of course.


- Bethany :)

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

a star is born?

Lola had her first-ever choir concert last night, performing two songs, one in French and one in English.

(Yes, I technically took five years of French -- and two years of Latin for that matter -- but, no, I had no idea what they were singing about. Mainly because I was too busy watching, smiling and giggling than to actually carefully listen.)

Lola attends a small school, out in the middle of the woods. A quiet, quaint campus in buildings modeled after those in French cities and villages.

But the choir concert was in town, at the local high school, which to her was about as large as any other school she's been in.

I had no idea how this would go.

Yes, she's been much better about performing in public.

But this was a real auditorium with a real stage.

When we got there, we met my dad and walked in, Lola extremely excited and giddy. No nerves at all.

But as soon as we walked into the auditorium, she stopped, a little awestruck.

"They want me to go up there?" she asked, suddenly quiet, looking up at the stage with more than a little bit of apprehension.

Fortunately, we ran right into a teacher she knows. And then a friend. And then another. And then one more.

Everyone was dressed up. Everyone was excited. And it was just moments before Lola was too.

"Can I go up there now?" she asked, again happy and excited.

Soon enough, they called the kindergartners to the stage and Lola bounded up there, practically skipping across the stage.

Showtime.






She did great.

Our little star.

So very proud of her.
- Bethany :)

Friday, January 10, 2014

Talk to ME!

Millie joined me this week for a quick run to the market, to get some milk and mushrooms (it was omelet night).

As we checked out, the cashier that helped us was very nice, even offering a Millie a sticker.

I told Millie to say thank you, so she smiled at the cashier and happily signed thank you.

The cashier then looked at me and asked, "Oh, is she learning sign language?"

I paused for a second and before I could answer, I saw Millie, looking directly at the cashier, signing "yes" in response.

- Bethany :)

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Lola's great day!

Some days you just don't forget.

For Lola, yesterday was probably one of them.

First, she didn't have school (again, due to the cold) so she and Millie spent the day at home with Ray. And that's always fun, getting one-on-one time, playing board games, reading books.

Then, when I got home from work, it was time for her and Ray to head to gymnastics. She's been in gymnastics now, twice a week, since the beginning of the school year and it truly has helped her build self-confidence, develop pride in herself, and respect for what her body can do.

It has been great. OK, it's had its bumps along the way, but she seems to be over the performance anxiety.

At her last show, she did much, much better. No tears - but, more importantly, she was having fun:


Well, this is the last week of this session, or testing week. After her first session in the fall, she moved up to her current level. So I wasn't expecting that she'd move up again.

But she barely got her foot in the house when she came home from class.

"Mommy! Mommy! I'm a Superbee!"

She passed her test; she was invited to join the invitation-only team for her age.

So, yeah, she's only 5 and it's not like they're doing back handsprings or anything. But her new class will now be in the "big" gym, not the toddler area. And it's more intense, an hour long.

She was beaming.

So very proud of herself.


After dinner, as we got ready for bed, it was time for her reading session. She's a great kid and she's learning so very much. But she's had a little self-doubt on reading. She's doing great and she can read many, many words, but she is getting frustrated super easily and wanting to quit, or avoid it all together.

So I've been trying some new strategies and making it totally fun instead of "work" all of the time.

Well, last night, she read a whole book to me. With a little help, yes. But a whole book.

She was so happy.

She ran into the living room to tell Ray and told me, again this morning, "Mommy I can really read now!"

And she can.
- Bethany :)

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

our cuties



No, she's not imitating me; she's imitating her Daddy.

While I'm pretty much glued to my laptop during the workday, at home, it's Ray who is most often on the laptop, sitting in this section of the couch I refer to as his "perch."

I love this photo. Mainly because she's so sneaky, our quiet little mischievous 2-year-old, who snuck away from our supervision for just a moment, me checking on dinner, Ray changing the laundry.

I turned around and found her like this, happily tapping the keys of the forbidden laptop.

***

Lola got an American Girl doll for Christmas. Caroline.

She also got matching PJs for herself and Caroline. So that's what this is.

I had an American Girl of my own growing up. Samantha. Who has long resided in Lola's room, with all of her dresses, furniture and everything else.

I love watching my own daughter(s) enjoying, themselves, some of my favorite pastimes from my own childhood. So sweet.

***
It's been cold this winter.

Really cold.

And the kids and the husband are going stir-crazy at home.

And we all have too much energy to burn off.

So what do we do?

I introduce to you "Daddy-skiing," when the wee ones hang onto the back of Dad''s sweatshirt and let him pull them the hallways along in socked feet. Not great for the sweatshirt, I'm sure, but it's pretty hilarious.

Fun times.


(She stays vertical most of the time!)

Happy winter.
- Bethany :)

Monday, January 6, 2014

Nothing!

Saturday. I woke up after 9 a.m. to the sounds of Mustang whimpering in his kennel.

Ray had worked late the night before, coming home well after 1 a.m. So I gently, quietly, whispered in his ear, "The kids are still asleep. Do you want to sleep more?"

He gave a slight nod and said, mostly joking, that he'd love it if I let him sleep 'til noon.

I let him fall back to sleep and I shuffled into the kitchen, let the dog out, made coffee and went to check the kids.

Lola was mostly awake, lying in bed with a multitude of toys. None of which was supposed to be a "bedtime" toy.

Millie was sound asleep, snoring. I gently woke her up and she smiled, then immediately signed for food. It's the first thing she does every single morning, before she ever gets out of bed. Breakfast is by far her favorite meal of the day.

Lola joined her at the table and they snarfed down our last snickerdoodle muffins.

And, as I stood there, leaning against the counter top, sipping my coffee, I realized:

I have absolutely nothing to do.

For the first time in weeks, I had no shopping to do. No wrapping. No packing. No cleaning. No laundry. No scrubbing. No organizing. No cooking.

Nothing.

And I smiled.

Lots.

The girls went straight from breakfast to playtime. We read books, we played Barbies, we colored.

At 11:20 a.m., Ray came out of the bedroom as Millie rushed to greet him.

Noting the clock, he looked at me carefully.

He smiled tentatively.

I smiled back. Genuinely.

He relaxed. And said thank you.

The rest of the day, I scrapbooked a bit, I took a nice long bubble bath, and I played lots with my kids and husband.

It was a fantastic day.

Yet if you asked me what we did, I'd probably say, "Nothing much."

And maybe that's what made it so wonderful.
- Bethany :)

Friday, January 3, 2014

a cool first movie

Lola was two and a half when we took her to see her first movie theater, to see Tangled here in town.

Millie was just under two and a half when, just after Thanksgiving, I took her for her first movie theater experience, not knowing how it would go, but expecting she was old enough.

She was with me, my mom, my sister-in-law and her three kids, as we all went to see Frozen in the Cities.

Lola's first movie experience was good but not great. She loved the bulk of the movie but got scared at the end.

Millie, though, loved every minute.

Of the movie.

Of the experience.

Of the theater (which has these super nice lounging theater chairs).

She sat on my lap and didn't move, other than to munch on popcorn, demand more of my drink, and to insist, toward the end, to have her own chair.

She laughed at Olaf, the snowman.

She giggled at Sven, the reindeer.

She swayed to the songs.

She clapped at the end.

It was a very cool experience.

And a good movie.

Lola loved it too, which made me happy. I'd been hoping, because the movie is about two sisters, that it would be a big hit. And it was.

A few weeks later, as we were all were still talking about the movie and watching songs online, we decided to see it again. With Ray.

So we had a family outing, this time in early December at our local theater.

The kids loved it again, and Ray liked it too!, but it was a little more difficult the second time to keep Millie still. She did well, just not as great.

But, just like before, she clapped at the end. And was happy to see Olaf and Sven.

We even ordered the soundtrack.

(Sidenote: Somehow Ray managed to buy maybe an extended version? I don't know, it has 59 songs, many of which are instrumental, but a handful are also the never-released songs that the song writers had developed at one time or another but ended up replacing. It's interesting to hear how the story itself changed over time.)

The soundtrack did lead to one problem though.

I was messing around with the iPod while backing up in the driveway a couple of weeks ago. Since it's been so dang cold this winter, the garage door wasn't working correcly and Ray hadn't been able to pull into his stall.

So his truck was where it shouldn't have been.

And the music was louder than it probably should have been.

And I was definitely more distracted than I should have been.

I backed up right into Ray's truck.

Crunch.

Whoops...

I walked inside, told him flatly what I'd done and, without waiting for a respoonse, continued to go grocery shopping as planned.

Fifteen minutes later, while waiting in line to check out, he called me.

"So," he said, trailing off a bit. "I went outside, to look at the truck..."

And then he just laughed.

And laughed.

And laughed some more.




I'm lucky like that.
- Bethany :)