Thursday, January 31, 2013


Don't forget to enter the giveaway from yesterday's post for one of 3 $10.00 HSN giftcards!  Just visit and leave a comment on my blog telling me what you love/need/want there, and, for a 2nd chance at one of the cards, please visit my new blog, Fashion and Frugality (for Kids) and follow me there! 

So, about that other blog...  I know it's pretty bare bones right now, but I do actually have a ton of posts lined up, waiting to be published that I just am not ready to blow yet on just a handful of readers.  Actually, having said that, I'm shocked and amazed to have 19 already!  Thank you to all of you who joined the site yesterday!  I set up a Facebook page for it yesterday, too, although I have absolutely no idea what I'm doing.  Can anyone please tell me what the benefit is in having a FB page for your blog?  My posts will auto-publish to that page, but I can't imagine what else could go on that page that would either a) not be redundant from what's on the blog, thus keeping people from checking out the blog at all, and b) drive people to my blog.  My dream for that blog is to have giveaways and guest posts, constant new inspiration and questions to answer, great photos and coupons/promo codes.  I also want to set up a viewer's gallery, in which you can send me photos and descriptions of your great looks for your kids (boys!!  I need boy stuff!) and bargain finds.  Lofty goals, I know, but it's something to work towards.

Anyway, that's all I had to say today. 

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

It's Time for a Giveaway from HSN (and come *follow* my new blog!)

HSN has recently given its site a full face-lift and has asked me to help to get the word out!  If you're anything like me, or if you're human in other words, shopping is both a necessity and a guilty pleasure. And, if you're anything like me (again, human), then you probably would rather shop from home than go out and brave the madhouse of a busy shopping mall.  Uh, especially those of us with kids., a top 10 most trafficked e-commerce site, has revamped their digital channels to make online shopping more user-friendly with simplified navigation and a simplified interface, and even utilizes integerated social media (if you're not on Facebook, YouTube, Pinterest, Twitter or Instagram, raise your hands!  Nobody?  Didn't think so...) to enhance your experience.  You can share your product finds as well as your thoughts and reviews with your friends in real time, as well as vote on a selection of 20 featured products (The 20) to determine each night which will be featured at a discount!

For a tour of the new HSN experience and to learn more, please visit this link.  Download their mobile apps for iPad, iPhone or Android for easier, on-the-go access.  Enter their Super Re-Model Sweepstakes today for a chance to win a Just for Her Grand Prize package worth $3,000!  It ends on January 31st, so don't wait!

And, to sweeten the deal and to get you started, HSN has provided me with 3 $10.00 gift cards to give to my readers. 

1) Just visit today and leave me a comment below telling me what you love there (personally, my current dining room chairs are about to give up the ghost and replacements are needed soon - I love these!).  And did you know that you can make multiple payments on many items instead of having to shell out a bundle all at once? 

2) And wait, there's more!  hehehe  As many of you know, I'm working on a new blog about children's fashion without spending a bundle.  I have numerous posts in the works, but am afraid to officially post anything until I know I have at least a few readers to start with (nobody likes to waste perfectly good posts!).  Visit Fashion and Frugality (for Kids) and become a follower of the blog (yeah, yeah, even though there are no posts yet, but then you'll be ready when there are!!), then leave an additional comment below to let me know you've done it for a 2nd shot at one of the 3 gift cards.

The giftcard giveaway will close next Wednesday, and winners will be notified after that.  Don't forget to include your e-mail address in your comment so I can reach you if you've won! 

Heck, even if you don't want to leave any comments and are content to be a lurker, please follow that blog anyway!  I promise, once I have a few of you in-pocket, I will begin to post there, and to update the layout to include multiple pages and some great fashion advice and photos.  You won't be disappointed!  :-)

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

The Puppet Theater

Thanks to the lessons learned from good children's programming on TV (no sarcasm here, for real!), and the social situations and activities she's viewed there, Samantha has wanted a puppet theater for quite some time.  Going back to the early days, there were episodes of Caillou, Max & Ruby and Peppa Pig that all involved the characters engaging in rousing puppet shows using puppets they'd made themselves.  She has talked about doing it, looking a little sad when I informed her that we had neither puppets nor theater. 

About 2 years ago, I bought, on sale, one of those DIY sock puppet kits from Borders (must've been during their liquidation).  I thought for sure it'd be the perfect introduction to the joys of puppet theater, ready to have some serious mommy/daughter bonding over the creation of such puppets and the enthusiastic and drama-filled plays we'd concoct to entertain our feline audience.  Or daddy.  Or, more realistically, ourselves

Things didn't really go as planned.  Let's just say that mommy had to take over, Sammi got mad and said, "No puppets!" and glue does not make cloth/felt/plasticgooglyeyes stick to other cloth/felt/plasticgooglyeyes.  It was a disaster.  No quicker could I glue a part on, than it fell right off again, never truly achieving the adhesive contact the pages-long instruction booklet promised.  So we ended up with a sad child and colorful socks with the scaly traces of long-dried glue on them, bits of felt sticking in strange places by sheer willpower.  And, perhaps, static electricity. 

A couple of weeks ago, Sammi and I met up for lunch with a co-worker/friend who was in town from the UK for a week of meetings.  I was blown away that she brought gifts, not only for Samantha but for me, as well.  And the gift for Samantha was a DIY finger puppet kit with a sweet little theater to go along.  I had high hopes for the brilliantly tenacious properties I dreamed glue coming from the UK would have when sticking cloth to cloth, and, well, let's just say we had a near repeat of our little scenario 2 years ago.  Pulling out my secret stash of super glue, I saved the day.  I still couldn't involve Samantha in the actual making of the puppets, but the joy on her face and the excitement and enthusiasm with which she enacted the little play (and many plays since) that came along with the kit was worth every second of the painstaking construction. 

She had a ball. 

Many, many thanks to my friend Vikki for her generosity and her faith that we could pull this off!



Monday, January 28, 2013

The Beauty of Winter

I know most of you have already seen this on Facebook, but I just couldn't help devoting a whole post to this face, this ray of sunshine on this dreary, icy morning in which school is canceled, and just walking outside your door is somewhat treacherous.. 

Such beautiful light coming in apres-snow on Saturday, as we were just getting ready to head out to play in what was left of the white fluff. 

Once again, a disappointing amount of precipitation, but Samantha joined up with two little girls who live a few doors down and who are close in age (one a year younger, one a year older) to build a mini-snowman, replete with carrot nose and black mulch buttons and eyes.

So, back to this beautiful face, my kid, posing in her best model pose, actually an accidental capture as she turned to say something from marveling at the snow outside the window. 

And, somehow, my kid got a looks-good-in-hats gene, unlike her mother, a reason to celebrate all on its own.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Snowy Day, Not Excited

Please indulge me on my selfish whine-fest this morning.  I know people have much bigger things to worry about, that this is trivial and silly, but it's all I've got today.  Well, at least until the cup of coffee I just inhaled begins to work its magic and my brain begins to congeal from it's gelatinous, slumbering state.

It's like my wish has come true.  Well, part of it, at least.  It's Thursday morning and we awoke to about an inch of freshly-fallen snow blanketing everything.  The snow is still falling lightly, and it's perfect for building a small snowman.  It's what I've been wanting for months now!  Just one snow, enough to build a snowman, slide down the tiny hill behind the house on our plastic sled, and just enjoy the weather.

But this morning I'm totally not feeling it.  No excitement, no thrill of anticipation.  Nothing. 

I think I'm just. too. tired. 

Samantha has spent the last 2 nights waking multiple times throughout the night with what I just figured out this morning is a head cold.  And when she wakes up, the cats wake up.  And when I try to get her back to sleep, the cats are up and playing and scratching on her closed door.  And that keeps her up.  It's a vicious circle.  I finally hauled both cats down two flights of stairs to the basement to lock them in the bathroom down there (where the litter boxes are kept) and we all went back to sleep.  Sort of.  The alarm went off for Steve at 5:30, Sammi heard it and came out of her room, and our day began.  sigh 

School's on a 2-hour delay.  Which is fine.  But in order to actually enjoy the snow, it needs to be while it's still fresh, not yet day-old and crusty, and it needs to be on a weekend when we can get out there at a normal time and have no other obligations besides fun and the promise of hot chocolate on the other end of cold.

I think we're supposed to be getting some similar precipitation tomorrow as well, which means conditions may be better on Saturday.  Guess we'll just have to wait and see.  And hopefully I can ingest a whole lot more coffee and get a lot more sleep between now and then. 

I think I'll do a little giveaway here on Monday or Tuesday, and try to build some followers for my new blog, Fashion and Frugality (for kids) at the same time.  The blog is still not up, although I may try to get an intro posted by then.  I'd rather have a decent reader base beforehand and not waste any halfway-decent posts.  :-)

Okay, enough exhausted, self-indulgent rambling for now. 

Today's reminder from the Believe book is this:  Believe that opportunity is everywhere and all around you, and the quote, from Ken Hakuta, is:

"People will try to tell you that all the great opportunities have been snapped up.  In reality, the world changes every second, blowing new opportunities in all directions, including yours."
Good words.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Birthday Party Blues

Birthdays happen every day.  And for the 6-7-year-old set, parties are part and parcel of the getting-older experience.  I'll cut to the chase, make my point without dancing too much here...

Last year, Samantha was not invited to even one birthday party of any of the children in her Kindergarten class. 

Not one.

And it breaks my heart. 

I can just envision the conversations held around the tables in other homes as the invitations are being written, the mothers asking the children who they want to invite, Sammi's name not coming up until the children bring it up to say they don't want Sammi there. 

I don't know if that's really how it plays out, but that's how I see it in my mind. 

This year it's happening again, although we did, finally, just get one invitation the other day to a party being held in one of the bouncy-places. 

And, while I hold onto that invitation without RSVPing yet, waiting for the hour in which it's due, while I know that Sammi enjoys that kind of place, I still resist.  Was the invitation written under duress?  Was the whole class invited?  Was she actually requested?  Will she enjoy herself or feel left out by her peers? 

I know, I know, I need to just be happy that she's been invited, let her forge her own way amongst her classmates as she does every day.  And I know that those children like her.  They like her.  But will they include her? 

I have a whole other post waiting to be written about growing up in a neighborhood, having the true experiences of childhood.  But I'll save that for later, when I can better gather my thoughts.  It goes hand-in-hand with this one.

And, in the meantime, I clutch the shiny, bi-fold paper invitation with the date and location of the party, willing it to provide me with the answers I'm looking for.  Hoping to inhale clarity and peace from it's fibers.  Knowing that the only answer will be found once I respond, once we get there and Sammi takes off to play, joyously ignorant of the painful process of decisiveness, the slights with which we are surrounded, noticeable only by absence.  And isn't that ignorance, that joy what it's all about? 

She's happy.   

And, on that note, Samantha's teacher gave me a beautiful thank you gift this morning, a completely unnecessary thank you for the nomination letter and packet for her for Teacher of the Year.  The gift was a beautiful reminder to  believe.  A book, full of quotes and reminders about believing.  And I'd like to share a quote each day from the book.  I think they apply to all of us at some point in time, if not every day

Today's reminder:  Believe in fresh starts and new beginnings.

Today's quote:  "The capacity for hope is the most significant fact of life.  It provides human beings with a sense of destination and the energy to get started."   ~Norman Cousins

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Concerned... (updated at end)

Over the last couple of days, I've had a few conversations with parents of older children about selective mutism, or the sudden inability of a child to speak, usually triggered by an event or events in his or her life.  One parent had been concerned about her child's sudden loss of speech several years ago.  I reached out into my network and another very wise and knowledgeable parent brought up the term of selective mutism and its possible causes, making a therapist recommendation for Parent #1 that I will be sure to pass along. 

Lastnight, at a Mom's Night Out within our local Ds community, a mom spoke about her child's ability to become obsessed with things, such as TV shows, certain episodes, a character, whatever, and in her child's defense, several of us recalled having been obsessed with much of the same when we, ourselves, were children.  I think it's definitely a very typical thing.  I suspect that in people with Down syndrome, however, due to some of the obsessive/compulsive tendencies that come along with that extra chromosome, those obsessions may take a bit longer to outgrow or to move beyond.  I mentioned Sammi's obsessions with certain TV shows, requesting to watch particular episodes again and again and again...

Fast forward to this morning, when the stars began to cataclysmically collide align...

Samantha, whose obsessions I'm usually fairly happy to indulge, requested, while eating her breakfast, to watch her favorite episode of Arthur, one where Arthur's sister, DW, loses her voice.  Pretty much every day for the last few months, Samantha has pretended to lose her voice for a few minutes at a time.  I'll pretend I'm happy about how quiet it is, and a few minutes later she'll grin and cheerfully say, "Okay, my voice is back!"

This time, after the episode ended, she did her usual. 

But this time she didn't speak again. 

She maintained the charade through getting dressed, brushing her teeth, putting on her shoes and coat, getting into the car, driving to school, walking into school, greeting her teachers and classmates (with a wave or a hug, rather than with her usual happy "hello!"), unpacking her backpack... 

Not a peep

It was creepy

And the thing that made it even more creepy was that she was in a fantastic mood!  She was totally happy, not sullen or stubborn. 

Just. not. talking. 

And trust me, this is a kid that does. not. shut. up. 

I put her teachers on high alert, and have been assured that I will receive an e-mail when anything changes.  I wonder how long she can keep this up.  Will it become some weird thing where she suddenly forgets how to talk after getting so caught up in the game?  Will the stubborn gene take over and force her not to relent?  Will this be some tragic lesson to us to never take anything for granted agan? 

I'll tell you what, though, I'll be checking my e-mail religiously today...

Update:  Okay, so I tend to panic when anything strange or out of the ordinary happens.  And what happened this morning was definitely strange and out of the ordinary.  Fortunately, by the time I got to work and checked my e-mail, there was a message from her teacher titled, "Chatty Cathy is Back."  Whew!  Did I worry for nothing?  Probably, but I think with our chromosomally-enhanced kids, or, honestly, with kids in general, you just never know.  I always figure it's better to be safe than sorry, to start strategizing solutions and gathering advice.  Thanks for listening!!

Monday, January 21, 2013

Piano Girl

Yes, yes, yes, I have to share this here.  Samantha's timing is impeccable, following along with my own re-introduction to my piano.  Recently, my mother purchased a piano book for the princess, hoping to teach her some of the fundamental basics of playing the instrument, hoping to teach her the relationship between what is read in a book and the tune that can be made on the keys.  While it's not really reading actual music, it has taught Samantha just that.  The way it works is that each note in the book is merely a color-coded letter, corresponding to the letter of the key in the octave, the color different for each different octave, and the colors and letters mirrored in easy-to-remove stickers placed on each piano key.  The pieces are simple, familiar tunes.  Although I highly doubt she's ever heard Good Night Ladies...

My mother has practiced with Samantha each time she comes over to visit, certain that Sammi would get it eventually, and the last time she came over she called me at work to tell me that she'd done it.  I didn't believe it, really, until just the other day, while Steve and I were in an adjoining room talking to some visitors, and heard the sound of My Country Tis of Thee coming from the living room.  Thinking it was the teenaged son of the couple with whom we were speaking, we looked over and were astounded that it was Samantha, on her own.  Here she is, somewhat fidgety, playing Twinkle Twinkle on Sunday.  I missed the very beginning, and she pooped out before she finished (to her credit, she had already played it half a dozen times before I had the brilliant notion to record it), but I love how she goes back and forth between looking at the book and the keys, humming (tone-deaf) along.  :-)  Am I expecting her to suddenly take off and rip into a Bach Invention, a Tchaikovsky Concerto?  Not in the least, but I'm pretty pleased with baby steps. 

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Little Accomplishments and the Minimization of Struggle

Sometimes I can be a little impatient when it comes to Samantha.  It's nothing against her, but aside from weekends, the bulk of the time we have together is highly deadline-driven, and, let's face it, the kid can move at the speed of molasses when she knows I'm trying to hurry.  I feel bad, rushing, rushing, rushing her, and have to be careful not to miss the milestone accomplishments that she may be able to show me, that I don't give her a chance to. 

I mean, how much easier and faster is it to just dress her myself, brush her teeth myself, wipe her butt myself, zip her coat myself?  A whole lot, and when I'm determined to keep her perfect attendance record at school, I like to give us plenty of leeway.  We now have a few new routines, where I let her finish whatever book she's reading before she gets dressed/comes down for breakfast/whatever (as opposed to me threatening to take it away from her...oops, Mommy fail...), and I let her brush her teeth/wash her face in the mornings, with me doing it in the evenings (just to be sure her teeth are clean enough...).  It makes for a much more copacetic start to the day, with Samantha more than happy to comply.  I guess struggles often come from a lack of compromise, an inability to figure out which battles to pick.  When I say that, it makes it sound like it's all my inflexibility, but she's a growing girl with a growing sense of independence, and I have to accept and accomodate that in ways I'm just not used to.   

The other day, a day when I built a bit of extra time into our morning routine, she showed me something I had no idea she could do.  Now how long has she been keeping this little gem to herself, eh? 


Wednesday, January 16, 2013

It Is Done...

I wrote recently about Sammi's IQ testing drama for her re-evaluation meeting (here).  After so much thought and deliberation about whether to even test in the first place, after finally deciding that we would go ahead with it, the little monkey flat. out. refused. to cooperate even the tiniest bit with the psychologist who was doing the testing.  We suspected that it may have to do with the tester herself, not the actual test.  You see, Sammi is a little stinker sometimes in who she'll respond to, what kind of personality they have, what they look like, and if they've ever done anything super-egregious, like omg, scratching their nose when she's looking to the left or clearing their throat as she's picking up her pencil, hell, I don't know.  It could be anything.  My kid's funny that way, and triggers are triggers, no matter how vague or seemingly ridiculous. 

So at our eligibility meeting just before the Christmas break, it was decided that because none of the eligibility categories even came close to fitting Sammi (OHI, Hearing Impaired, Speech on its own, etc.) besides ID, there was nothing we could do other than to attempt to re-test in January with a different psychologist. 

And yesterday that's just what they did.

And Samantha didn't hesitate to respond to her.  Apparently it went very well, and she answered everything without any resistance.  Now we wait for a couple more weeks until our next meeting and see what happens. 

Best case scenario is that she tested well, but not too well to allow the ID category.  We argue the category title, and they give her the Child With a Disability label, a convenient and happier name that prevents any preconceived notions, forces anyone in her future educational life to look deeper into her file, look beyond the easy-to-judge Intellectual Disability, see who she really is and what she's capable of.

Worst case scenario has already been averted, and that would be that she refused testing and we had absolutely no idea how to proceed from here. 

So we hold our collective breaths and wait.

Sammi with her favorite horse dog on the planet, who came to visit us last weekend.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Omg, What Have I Just Agreed To?

I'm not sure how many of you know this, but I took lessons and played classical piano all through grade school and high school.  My piano teacher lived down the street from us for several of those years, and our families were close.  I still remember my mother getting a call one night to go and watch her daughter while she went to the hospital to give birth to her son.  Oh, I can't believe how much time has passed!  Her children are grown, with families of their own now. 

Like any other little kid, I hated to practice.  I practiced for a scant 1/2 hour a day, watching the clock like a hawk, wishing for the music to come to me through osmosis as my fingers touched the black and white keys, turned the heavily marked-up pages of pieces I had yet to master.  The older I got, the greater my appreciation grew, but with that, the more my confidence was shaken.  As a teenager, afraid to share my feelings, afraid to embrace the things that were beautiful to me, I held myself at a distance from the skills I had aquired.  I was pretty good, actually, but in retrospect years later, I could see that I had held myself back critically. 

Doing recitals and concerts were a source of mind-numbing terror, insurmountable anxiety that lasted from the moment the date was announced until the moment I could remove myself from the stage amid what I took to be polite applause derived from a pitiable performance.  And even after that, I was certain all eyes were on me, feeling sorry for the wretch that had subjected herself to such ridicule.  Silly, I know, but that's how teenage minds work.  Remember?

At my high school graduation, my parents presented me with the gift of a new piano.  A beautiful, blonde-wood Samick that I could carry with me into my future life, to continue my practice, to fine-tune the art.  But college came along, and the piano stayed back at home until many, many years later when I moved to an apartment that could accomodate it.  Actually, it wasn't until after Samantha was born.  And now, 26 years after my last lesson, after high school graduation, I have barely touched it. 

26 years.

The point of this post?

Last week, my former piano teacher, my only piano teacher, contacted me on Facebook and asked if I, along with another high school friend/2-piano partner, would want to participate in a reunion concert of her former students, in Philadelphia in May.

And, without hesitation, I said yes.

And, although I have barely touched a piano in so long, my fingers and joints completely stiff (although I'm thankful for the fact that I type on a computer all day - it's gotta count for something!), my ability to read music questionable, I oddly, surprisingly, feel no fear.

I am calm.  And while I would have prefered this concert to be in August, or even December instead of May, the adult that I have become is up for the challenge. 

My mornings after taking Samantha to school are now to be spent practicing in a quiet house.  My computer time to be limited to short evening and weekend bursts.  My blogging, well, who knows what will happen, but I hope to be able to continue it in the same manner as always. 

I'm not sure what I have just agreed to, but I'm excited at the prospect, excited to see what the adult me can do with what the child/teenage me could only begin to touch on.  My skill is certainly not there, but my ability to feel the music and to learn the notes with the detail the composer created within them, rather than the haphazard way I forced my way through all those years ago, wanting to do it my way, has certainly grown.

Wish me luck...

Monday, January 14, 2013

Naming Places

Self portraits in the bathroom mirror
For so long we felt it wasn't worth it to confuse Samantha with the actual proper names for places.  I mean, doesn't it make more sense to describe a destination or location by its function rather than it's name?  Not like I'd go and call a person person instead of Mr. So-and-so, just because they're, well, a person, but I think you get what I mean. 
Starbucks or Caribou or wherever was always the coffee shop.  Worked for the purpose of conversation.  McDonald's was just a generic restaurant.  Giant was the grocery store.  Easy, right?  But once Samantha started to learn to read, and could physically see for herself the differentiation of title vs. function, we began to finally introduce the real names.  I remember driving with her a year or so ago, past a CVS drugstore, when Samantha called from the back seat, "Look, Mommy, it's Caves!"  Trust me, it took me a while to actually figure out what the hell she was talking about.  Caves?  Oh, holy cow, CVS!!!  And from there, the rest fell into place. 
Target is Target, Giant is Giant, etc.  I'm not sure if I was selling her short by assuming it would confuse her to call them by their real names, or if she really just wasn't at a stage of making those connections, but I must say, it was more convenient to do that.  But with the ability to read, her world has opened up even bigger than it had been, and everything began to take on new, more detailed identities.  I'm able to tell her where we're going, and she can make a mental picture of it, know exactly what to expect. 
Is it just me?  Have any of you also done this?  It sounds so weird to now be putting it down in writing, to actually acknowledge it, and now I'm beginning to feel a bit foolish.  C'mon, you've gotta be in this with me, right?
Awww, what's wrong, Mommy?
Hmmm...botox not necessary.  I'm beautiful!  (btw, no, we did not cut her hair - she's just been twisting the front until it breaks off, so it's a bit ragged and just below her ears now.  The back is still long, and not visible in this pic.)

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Christmas, Just a Little Bit Late...

Samantha was a very good little girl this year, and we made sure Santa knew it.   
 At the foot of her bed in the morning to greet her when she woke, a large red velvet sack was left, bursting to the brim with wrapped gifts.  However, as luck (and what has become a rather awful daily habit these days...) would have it, Samantha had stumbled out of her room in the dark, before the dawn could even begin to crack along the horizon, and come into our room to cuddle in our bed for another hour of sleep.  When we all awoke again, we had to tell her that there was a wonderful surprise waiting for her on her bed! 
We carried the bag down to the living room and sat in front of the tree eating Christmas cookies while she tore into her haul.  It was at this point that we all discovered we had two more surprises waiting for us...
...the discovery that someone (oh, okay, Mommy...) had eaten the chocolate chip cookies and drunk the chocolate milk (yes, that's a Guinness half-or-less-pint glass) that had been left out...
...and a (slightly) white Christmas outside.  (Sammi insisted on going out to walk around in the dusting, so those are her footprints, not Santa's...)  Oh, and see that building just behind the trees?  That's her school.  How awesome is that?

Among oh-so-many-other-things, Santa brought her a Peppa Pig doll house and family, perfectly sized to match her Olivia doll house and family, creating endless hours of little piggie playdates with both families living next door to each other.  
In a cruel twist, Gramma and Grampa gave her an indoor, mini trampoline which Mommy happens to be 20 lbs. too heavy to use...  Bah humbug. 

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Almost Done...

I just want to apologize to everyone whose blogs I usually read religiously.  In the last month I have really, really dropped the ball.  I miss hearing about your children, your families, your day-to-day struggles and triumphs!  But I'm distracted.  First by holiday stuff, now by finishing off the Teacher of the Year nomination packet for Samantha's teacher.  My friend and I have finally just about finished it, which is a good thing since it's due on Friday.  I need to put the finishing touches on a wacky font I used (it was beautiful, but did this totally weird thing to any words that had apostrophes!), and PDF it, and we'll be ready to have all 50-ish pages turned in to the county public school administrative offices tomorrow. 

Seriously, folks, I can't even begin to describe how much Samantha's teacher, Mrs. R., deserves this award.  From my own limited experience in knowing her over these last few months, I thought I had the full picture and have been completely blown away by her devotion, her patience, her abilities, her sheer joy at doing what she does, but my knowledge didn't even come close to the whole story, as I discovered when reading the testimonials from other administrators, parents and former students that were included in the packet.  The voices of the others spoke vast volumes to the character and nature of this amazing woman.  We were only allowed to use 12 testimonials, including my own, in the packet.  I could easily have found 112.  And more.

I'm not sure when the decision date is, but we'll be anxiously awaiting the answer.  Mrs. R. says she has "already won" just by being nominated.  And perhaps she has, but really, we are the ones who have won.  Our children have already won, just by virtue of being placed in her class.  And an award like this, the recognition of a person who should set the example for educators (and parents!) everywhere, should be placed in her hands this year. 

Next week, I promise, I'll get back into the blogging world groove.  I just need to think of something to write about, though!  Can't believe I'm coming up empty.  I think my brain needs a little recovery time, and then it'll all come to me.  In the meantime, if any of you can think of stuff for me to talk about, feel free to pass it along!  :-) 

Monday, January 7, 2013

Thoughts, and Two Very Useful Emoticons

Is everyone back now?  Are we all settled into our pre-holiday routines and reading and writing again?  I feel like last week was a bit of a wash.  I wasn't yet into my routine, either, and, after numerous days off work with plenty to catch up on, couldn't even contemplate crafting a new blog post in my head, let alone writing (typing) one down.  Although I have been coming up with posts, topics for posts, and photos for my new blog, Fashion and Frugality (for Kids).  It's not up yet, but I've decided to keep it on Blogger and am just trying how best to roll it out so it gets a fair amount of traffic from the get-go so my posts don't get wasted.  I hope you'll all be interested in joining me there when the time comes!  I'll probably be talking it up a lot over the next few weeks until I'm ready to go with it, so please bear with me.  :-) 

Totally off-topic here, but I learned something very useful on Facebook the other day.  I'm sure you'll all be completely wowed by it, and will rush out to defile your wall and the walls of countless others with such amazing stuff...but here goes...  Try the following two emoticons.  I won't say more:


Intrigued?  You should be.

Okay, back to (random) relevant items of business again.

I had a topic I wanted to write about, a topic that has come to me several times over the last few days as something I wanted to bring up, but for the life of me, I totally can't remember what it was!  Figures.  It'll probably come back to me while I'm in the shower or driving to work.  Those are my big think times.

Samantha and I took the Christmas tree and interior decor down on Saturday.  I think we were all ready.  Christmas was fun, the decorated house was warm and inviting, but there does come a time when enough's enough, and we were ready for it to be over.  I was a little worried she'd be upset by the breaking-down of everything, but Samantha was really into it, now with little Miss Bossy-Pants scolding anyone with any kind of decorations that "Christmas is over!"  For the most part she's been really great over the last few weeks, and settled back into school smoothly, but I've been noticing that she's been having a lot of difficulty listening.  Not "listening" as in hearing, or even paying attention, but "listening" as in heeding what we are saying or asking her to do.  Like, "don't touch" translates into touch everything for her.  And "stay with me" translates into run ahead, or "let's go, we're late!" translates into stop and pet the cat, play with the hula hoop, play piano, re-arrange the bookshelf, smell the roses...  I'm sure this is, in part, her age.  Maybe.  But sheesh, it's frustrating!  Saturday we went to Walmart to look for under-bed storage for her out-of-season clothes (which I couldn't find - not even at Home Depot!).  I promised her we'd get to have hot chocolate at McDonald's (there's one in the store) afterwards.  She was good as gold in the store, and we stood in line at Micky D's only to find out that the hot chocolate/latte machine was on the freaking fritz.  Seriously???  Let's just say the meltdown was epic.  I felt soooooo bad.  So I promised her we'd go to Dunkin' Donuts instead.  No problem (although she cried the whole way there), but after we had our treats there, just before we left, she pushed open the Employees Only gate to the back-counter area, and ran behind the counter.  Omg, I was mortified.  The employees were nice about it, and, thankfully, there weren't any other customers in the store, but I was pretty ticked off.  What on earth posessed her to do that??  She said later that she'd wanted to say goodbye.  Uh, there are certainly other ways to say goodbye.  That's not one of them.  Another example was yesterday.  I had run the dishwasher before we left the house to run to the grocery store.  When we returned, as we were putting our purchases away, she reached out and pressed the still-running machine's on/off button, halting the wash in whatever cycle it may have been in.  I've told her time and again not to touch that button, but it's like it's a compulsion to do it.  I then had to run the wash again, since I had no idea how clean everything may have been, and it didn't get a chance to go through the drying cycle.  She can go ahead and cry when I yell at her for doing those non-sensical things that she fully knows not to do, but I just am always in awe at how it just. does. not. sink. in.  *sigh*

Oh, and while we were in the grocery store, Sammi, being chipper and pushing her little mini, kid's shopping cart happily, was dancing around the aisles, greeting some of the people who walked past us and jumping in front of them to yell, "delicious!", something I'd just said to her, which she thought was funny.  For the first time ever, I was truly dismayed at the lack of reaction from some of the people.  She was practically in their faces, and being unbearably cute, but the stone-faced reactions were staggering.  As we left one of the aisles, I said, slightly loudly, "Some people just aren't very friendly, baby."  Thankfully we ran into one of her teachers right after that, and she was beyond thrilled to see her, so any disappointment she may have felt (or I may have felt) was washed away. 

Okay, still can't think of what I was originally going to post about, but there's always tomorrow...

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Looking Back

I've seen a lot of people posting these "looking back at 2012" posts this week, and thought I'd jump on the band wagon.  However, the year has gone by so unbelievably fast, that I don't actually know if I can discern things that have happened in the last 12 months over the previous 12.  It's all a dizzying blur, a blend of activity contrasted with ennui. 


Balance is good, hours/days/weeks/months spinning by at out-of-control, breakneck speed is not good.  All it means to me is that I'm getting older faster than I can keep up with from year to year.  And my roots are growing and needing to be dyed sooner and sooner every month.  What used to be an every-2-to-3-month activity is now every 4-to-5 weeks.  I think my hair will all fall out soon. 

Think I'm joking?

Anyway, this past year has been a happy one, full of the joys of meeting new (actually long-lost and previously unknown) family members (Steve's) back in March in Seattle, the not-too-painful transition from Kindergarten to 1st Grade, two beach vacations (one to New Jersey, one to Georgia), a new in-home, after-school aide for Samantha starting in August, whom we all love, a first hair cut in which a whole foot was donated to Locks of Love, full-time work for Steve for the first time since Samantha was born, my first NDSC conference in July (hoping to make next year's, too), my 5th year doing the DSANV calendar (!!), incredible leaps and bounds for Samantha in her IEP goals (she actually has been getting up in front of her class to present projects, perform in groups, etc.!  This is such a huge thing for her!), the deaths of two beloved geriatric cats within 2 months of each other, and the adoption of two beautiful, sweet, feral kittens soon afterwards, and so, so many other things I just can't think of right now. 

And, as always, I am thankful for health and family and friends (real and virtual), and hope for another fun and healthy and happy year ahead.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Maintaining Traditions: Ringing in the New Year

We're boring.  Yeah, I said that, and I meant it.  Keeping yin with yang, we balance out all the up-to-and-beyond-midnight partying that goes on for so many other people throughout the world by maintaining a tradition of not doing much of anything, and falling asleep looong before the magic hour.  As a matter of fact, I look forward to being awoken on the stroke of 12 by cheers and the small pops of fireworks out in the street. 

It's not really like we want to do it that way, but for a variety of reasons, it just happens.  Reason #1 stems from the fact that throughout all of my years in retail management, I had to work on New Years' Day most of the time, and didn't want to have a miserable day by having gone to bed too late the night before.  Reason #2 is far more practical - I have no desire to be driving out on the street during hours when most of the other cars out there are likely being driven by people who have imbibed.  It's just not safe.  Reason #3 came when Samantha was born - there's no way ever that she would be able to stay up that late herself, and, as she goes to bed so early, she is a super-early riser.  If I went to bed after midnight, I'd be beyond useless at 5:30am.  But, to be perfectly, completely honest, I, myself, just can't. stay. up. that. late. anymore.  And there's really no compelling reason for me to actually stay up, anyway.  Dick Clark?  Not only was he kinda boring to watch, but he's also now kinda dead (RIP, Dick Clark!).  Who's hosting the Rockin' New Years' Eve now anyway?  Ryan Seacrest?  Carson Dailey?  Who knows, but I suspect they're also equally boring, and the musical acts they try desperately to keep me up with are usually cause for flipping the channel to House Hunters, or Pawn Stars.  Which, while I enjoy them both, equals instant snooze.


Maybe one day.  But for now, it is what it is.  Our tradition.

Update:  We went to a local friend's party for about at 6:00, left by 7:30, watched Storage Wars and House Hunters, and I was passed out cold by 10:20.  Totally didn't wake at midnight.  :-(