Monday, August 30, 2010

Absence Makes the Mom Feel Guiltier

I had a rather exciting opportunity this weekend, thanks to my wonderful husband. Not that exciting for most people, but you moms sure do know what I’m talking about. I went to my friend’s party up near Baltimore and spent the night without Samantha. I would have taken her (and Steve), but he suggested that I go on my own so I could relax a bit and socialize instead of having to chase her around and keep her entertained. Believe it or not, this was the first night I have ever spent away from her since she was 3 months old when I attended a 2-day conference for work up in Philadelphia.

And I really missed her. And I felt guilty and selfish. Not that I didn’t have a good time, because I really did. There was something quite liberating about being able to go into whatever room I wanted, to wander around outside, to talk to whomever I wanted and catch up with some old friends. But I wished I had my little buddy there with me.

The premise of the party was also a concert (which I’ll get to in a minute). Children were invited, and I figured there’d be 2 or 3 there. There were more like 15 or 20. It was pretty insane. But I got to be the one watching. I watched all the other parents chasing their kids, and felt some peace of mind. But more importantly, I realized that Sammi would have fit in pretty darn well!  This is a pretty huge admission for me, actually.  So many times I’ve gone to parties full of “typical” children and felt the vast separation of the great divide that is called “do-not-compare-your-child’s-development-to-that-of-others-or-you’ll-be-miserable” pretty strongly, but the mix of children was a bit more broad than usual (or is it that she’s matured so much in the last year?). I definitely missed her. Funny how you can crave some alone time, but it just makes you miss your family even more.  As soon as I got back home on Sunday I snatched her up and took her to a local village fair.  She was pretty miserable (it was hot, and she had just woken from a nap), but I was just happy to be with her.  Here she is cuddling her best buddy, Olivia, and her ancient and tattered "blankie" on the ride home from the fair.

About the concert - apparently it’s pretty popular for up-and-coming musicians (signed and otherwise) to perform at house parties to supplement their regular gig income. Kat Parsons is one such artist. Her website is an excellent source of information for people considering hosting such a party. There’s just something so much more intimate about listening to live music in a living room (or in the yard, as it was on Saturday night). Kat has an incredible voice, and is just so personable, and it was a real pleasure to listen to her. I would have bought her cd, but didn’t have any cash on me, as usual. If any of you get a chance to catch her somewhere, don’t miss that opportunity!

By the way, for those of you that may have wondered what’s going on with Samantha’s obsession with Santa Claus, Steve and I have been careful not to mention him to her and after a few days she did stop asking when Santa was coming. Now she’s just asking to go to the beach. In a week and a half, baby, I promise. Hang in there!

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Wordless Wednesday: Daddy's Girl

Three years of maturity and growth change a baby into a little girl, but the look of love is the same (click here for a very early blog post from 2007, and a very similar photo to the 2nd one down).

Monday, August 23, 2010

Christmas in August

I made a horrible mistake on Saturday.  It started out innocently enough, but was obviously not very well thought out on my part.  The innocent part involved Mommy making dinner small talk with Samantha at the table while she ate.  It involved asking her the usual, "did you have fun today?" which was, as usual, followed by "no."  Ummm...Sweet Pea, we went to the water park where you had a ball and were so tired you didn't make it out of the parking lot awake...  Of course, the more tired she is, the more likely she is to answer "no" to everything that's asked of her.  So I tried a different tactic.  I thought I'd ask her something more abstract, something that she might be inclined to answer, or at least think about.

I asked her what she wanted for Christmas.  I figured, what the heck, let's get a jump on it this year, and see if she'll actually tell me what she wants.  After a slightly blank look, I re-phrased the question.  "What do you want Santa to bring for you this year at Christmas?" 

And her response??  "Santa coming!!!"  She went on to tell me that when she woke up in the morning, Santa would come.  And something about cookies.  Ahhhhhh. 

Me:  Santa's not coming tomorrow.  Santa's coming at Christmas, when it's cold outside.

Samantha (very excited):  Christmas is cold!  Snowing!

Me:  Yes, when it snows.  Santa will come at Christmas, after we put up the Christmas tree, when it snows.

Samantha (jumping down from her chair and running to the front door, trying to open it):  Santa coming! 

So we went outside, to sit on the front steps, and wait for Santa.  She finally determined that Santa was sleeping, and I seized the opportunity to explain that yes, Santa is sleeping, until Christmas, when our Christmas tree is up, after it's cold and when it's snowing.  Yesssss!

I felt that it had passed.  We were safe, I was in the clear.  Whew!

Until bedtime, when she told me that when she woke up, Santa would come.  *sigh*

Morning would bring a new day, I thought, and I wouldn't mention Santa, and she will have forgotten about him.  Until morning.  First thing she said when she woke up was, "I wake up!  Santa coming!"  Yep.  Then on Sunday afternoon she proceeded to make up a song that she danced around her room singing, while shaking (coincidentally, I think) some jingle bells that she pulled out of a drawer.  The song, while I couldn't catch all the words, was something about good morning, wake up, Santa coming. 

I never did find out what she wants for Christmas.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Fast Approaching...

The day is inching closer and closer. I’m not sure I’m quite ready for it yet, either, but I know that it has to happen. It’s non-negotiable, if I want to reach the ultimate goal next year, the year after, the year after that, and endless years into the future. I have begun to feel the anxiety creeping in slowly, twisting my stomach into knots, knowing that this is it.

Samantha will be starting in a full-day, “typical” pre-K class next Tuesday.

There, I said it. And there’s that pesky feeling of dread to accompany it. I know I’m just being silly, and it certainly makes for some dramatic effect, but I just worry. I worry that she’ll cry every day, like she did when Steve has dropped her off several times in the past two months for just an hour, to get acclimatized. I worry that she won’t be able to keep up with the other kids. I worry that the teacher will be frustrated with her stubborn inability to transition smoothly (what do you mean, we’re not going to draw with crayons anymore and are now going to sing songs? Waaaaaaaahhhhh!!!!!). I worry that the other kids will think she’s a baby (I think I’m permanently scarred by hearing that one of the other kids tattled on Sammi when she was in that class one day, saying she was drawing on the easel itself, rather than on the paper attached to it).

I have a few things to bear in mind about all of this, though:

I know I sell her short sometimes.

She’ll be in that class two days a week, for full-days, from which she will almost certainly benefit (and in the special ed. preschool the other 3 mornings a week). One hour, every once in a while, can not possibly build confidence in a child. No wonder she cried…

The kids that have been in that class when we’ve dropped her off are the rising Kindergarteners, and thus considerably older, and won’t be there by the time public schools start.

We’re talkin’ preschool, here, folks, not Kindergarten, and certainly not college!!

I’m thinking a lot of my trepidation comes from knowing how totally important this year is for her, in advance of her entry into Kindergarten. I’ve been reading so many stories on blogs and on Facebook lately about Kindergarten transition and the dilemma faced by many parents about where and how to place their child (Which school? Inclusion or self-contained? Set back a year, or moving forward?). Kindergarten, in our county, is ½ day. Actually, it isn’t even that. It’s 3 hours, an hour less than preschool. I hear so often from local parents of typical children how challenging Kindergarten is here, when the teacher is trying to cram so much grade-appropriate information into the kids in such a short period of time. If the typical children are feeling challenged in Kindergarten, what happens to our kids? I picture a harried, overworked teacher overseeing a class full of struggling children and one child with special needs frustrating her as they slow down the whole lesson plan. So does this mean that our kids are doomed from the beginning, being pulled out of their Kindergarten class to the resource room for everything except for lunch?

No thank you…

There’s a very, very remote chance we can get Samantha into a full-day Kindergarten program in the public school, but it’s miniscule at best (only 12 schools in the entire county have a full-day K class and you have to be chosen by lottery to get in). We’ll try, though. It’ll be worth it.

But what is the final outcome here? Am I worrying for nothing? Am I worrying too soon? Should I just take my own advice and attack each hurdle as it comes? Should I take it for granted and trust that Samantha, being Samantha, will continue to surprise us by her resilience?

Sheesh, do the parents of typical 4 year olds ever panic like this?

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Monday, August 16, 2010

One at a Time

Highly entertaining and thought-provoking disability blogger, Dave Hingsburger, wrote a new post this morning that truly made my jaw drop in amazement. A candidate for mayor of Toronto, Canada, known for being rather outspoken and particularly un-PC on so many levels, had, at some point in his recent career, used the R-word with obviously no thought to its implications or who it may hurt. A rival candidate has seized on this quote (among others) to create a smear campaign against him and has plastered the R-word in all its disturbing, damage-creating glory on his website, in newspapers, on tv and in other public forums.

Who is guilty of the bigger evil here – the candidate who said it, or the rival who is using it to his advantage? To be honest, I can’t answer that. I can say that I’m disgusted. The word “retard,” no matter how it is intended, is hurtful to people with intellectual disabilities and their families. The word “retard” can not be justified in this day and age. States are even removing it from their legislative texts. I know people will say, “oh, it’s just a word.” No, it’s not. It’s a complete concept, fraught with stereotypes and misconceptions. It’s a weapon that injures pride and maims dignity. It’s unnecessary. It hurts my daughter, even though she doesn’t know it yet. As she grows up, she will. She’ll hear it, of that I’m sure, and while I’d love to be able protect her from it, the best thing I can do is to continue to fight against its use and to educate those that do or may use it.

Please voice your disproval of what is going on with these two neighbors to the north. You don’t have to be Canadian to do so. One at a time, folks. We can make a difference one at a time.

Rob Ford (the candidate who initially used the word)
The George Smitherman Campaign (who have taken advantage of the situation and used the quote gratuitously)

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Wordless Wednesday: Serious About Bubbles

Okay, well they're not my own words, at least:

Bubbles float high and bubbles float low,
Bubbles filled with love wherever they go,
So reach out and grab one
It's my love to you,
This is the way I bid you
Adieu, adieu, adieu, adieu to you
So reach out and grab one
It's my love to you. (~unknown)

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Old Friends and New

Before we moved to DC, Steve and I lived out in Philadelphia’s Main Line, the endless strip of affluent small towns stretching west of the City, along the rail line. The area just oozes small town charm, and while we were far from affluent, living in a small apartment above a shop in a Victorian structure, we were made to feel comfortable by those that were. We never felt out of place, and made good friends.
We lived in the Victorian on the left for 3 years.

Last week, one of those friends invited Steve to attend a soccer game with him in the new stadium built to house Philly’s new MLS team. Samantha and I decided to tag along and do some visiting. Our long-time friends, Mark and Lorrie, generously offered to have us stay with them for a few nights at their house, as their sons have since grown up and moved out, leaving several empty bedrooms. (Let me pause here to say that this trip also served to make me feel pretty old. These two sons had been children when we saw them last, when we lived in that area. Children. Wow. Now one of them is engaged to be married.) We had such an amazing time with them – great company, great food, great weather and great fun playing their Wii after Sammi went to bed (first time playing Rock Band, an experience I will never forget, thanks to Mark’s, uh, enthusiastic singing…). Samantha was in super-charm mode the entire time, which made the trip particularly fun.

Sammi and Mark

Steve and Lorrie

We paid a surprise visit to a cousin we hadn't seen in many years...

Samantha and Cousin Kevin

...had dinner with high school friends...

Kristin and Tricia

...chased rabbits at dusk...

See previous blog post for more of the rabbit-chasing...

...and frolicked in bubbles.

Sammi with the bubble machine Mark & Lorrie gave her.

And…we had a playdate with our blog friends from ReJenerationS! We discovered that they lived nearby and were so excited to meet them! Samantha, Sophia and Helena had a great time playing together, with a little bit of toy tug-of-war, but that’s to be expected from the under-5 (aw, heck, make that under-20) set. They’re a wonderfully down-to-earth family that we feel very privileged to have met.

Samantha and her new friends.

Sharing a love of Kai-lan.

I think we won’t let another 14 years elapse before paying another visit to our old stomping grounds.

Monday, August 9, 2010

The Bunny

Brown bunny sits inside his burrow
Till everything is still,
Then out he slips along the furrow,
Or up the grassy hill.
He nibbles all about the bushes,
Or sits to wash his face,
But at a sound he stamps and rushes
At a surprising pace.
You see some little streaks and flashes,
A last sharp twink of white,
And down his hidey-hole he dashes
And disappears from sight. (~Edith King)
(Searching for bunny the next morning - I told her he must be taking a nap...)

Sunday, August 8, 2010

UPDATED: Flickr Update (thanks to the freaks out there in cyberspace)

Well, courtesy of the most recent uber-disturbing message from the afforementioned creepazoid in Brazil (read: stalker), I have had to make my Flickr photostream private, visible only to my contacts marked as either friends or family.  If you would like me to add you as a friend or family member in Flickr, please create an account there and send me a private message telling me who you are and I will give you viewing permissions.  I am very sad about this.  I loved having my Flickr account public, there for everyone to enjoy my little ray of sunshine, but all it took was for one person to ruin things.  I'd be more specific about the message I received, but I am too bothered about it to go back and re-read it myself just yet (nothing gross, just creepy).  Maybe things will change some time in the future, and maybe I'll just change my account name.  We'll see.

UPDATE:  Sorry, it just dawned on me that I didn't tell you how to find me on Flickr.  You can either go to or search on Sammi's Mom from the Flickr home page.  Again, contact me once you've got a Flickr account and I'll add you in if you're not a stalker.  :-)

Monday, August 2, 2010

The Gurly Side of Things

In high school my favorite color was black. To even think about the color pink, let alone wear it, was completely forbidden in my mind. Pink was for preppies. For the pretty, popular girls. By the time I hit college, I added in the occasional splash of purple, just because in goth world, purple is acceptable. I remember when I was a kid, pre-high school, my mom would tell me that black was for funerals. She had one black suit, saved for just such an occasion. My, my, my how things have changed. Black is the new, uh, other-than-black, and a black suit (at least one!) is a staple item in any working-woman’s wardrobe.

Also in college, I fantasized about having children that I would dress in black, boys whose hair I would allow to grow to unacceptable lengths, girls decked in velvet or lace. Silly me. Yes, I grew out of it. And while it took some time beyond even that, I did eventually learn to embrace color. Lots of it. For three years I was the manager of a high-end women’s and children’s clothing store called Oilily, designed in the Netherlands. Oilily’s fundamental idea is that kids should dress like kids, not like mini-adults. Kids should be able to wear washable, fun, colorful, high-quality, beautifully-detailed clothing for all occasions. Their mothers should be able to be fashionable, yet still young at heart. Oilily never sold black. As the manager, I had to wear their clothing every day. Color and pattern became my mantra, and I knew then that any future child of mine would wear similar free-spirited apparel (although I knew I could not afford Oilily).

While I still cannot afford Oilily, I have tried to replicate their general tenets and beliefs when dressing Samantha, only on a shoestring budget. I think I’ve done a pretty good job of it. I have learned to love pink, orange and turquoise, both for her and for me. I love the balance and juxtaposition of whimsical and wearable. Play and pose. Fun and frill. Princess, mixed with a dollop of tomboy. I do worry that one day she will rebel against all things girly and decide that she’d prefer to wear black, but for the time being, she doesn’t mind what I put her in (except for her decision this weekend to change out of my initial offerings into her own selections, but I’ll save that for another blog post about independence). My photos today are a) from my cell phone, so please ignore the quality, and b) a glimpse into her exploration of the girly side of things.