Wednesday, August 31, 2011

One and the Same

Haley and our cat are basically the same.

They both overreact when someone sneezes:

Shadow jumps and looks around for the offender - he seems to be worried that it is only a warning strike and that something more horrendous is sure to happen. Haley immediately goes in to imitation mode and makes disgusting noises endlessly.

They both want the same thing:

Shadow wants to be out of his room. Haley wants Shadow to be out of his room. They conspire. Haley will follow him around the house watching him, watching him do whatever nasty thing he wants to do, she doesn't try to stop him or warn us.

They both want food all the time:

Haley's insatiability is well documented here. I usually let Shadow outside in the morning, clean his room (the laundry room) and give him fresh water and food. When he comes in a little later he looks at his food bowl as if it is empty and then looks up at the cabinet where his food is stored, looks at the bowl, looks at the cabinet, looks at the bowl...

They both know that I am the mother:

It doesn't matter to either of them who is with them and how well they are being cared for and loved; if I walk in to the house (or the room) they both

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

That Sinking Feeling

Usually at this time of year I start to get excited.  Back to school has been a relief for me in the past.  I don't feel that way this year.  I have a sense of foreboding and dread, deep down inside me.  I don't know why.

It started about a week or so ago.  I just started feeling strange.  I couldn't put my finger on it.  After a couple of days of feeling that way I decided to think about it, I wanted to discover the reason for the feeling.

After much thought; this is what I came up with.

This summer has been fun.  This is the first summer that I didn't feel trapped inside the house trying to entertain my daughter.  I know that sounds horrible, but that is the way my summers usually feel.  I like to be busy and during the summer most of the activities that keep me busy stop. 

I have free time, but for me free time isn't really a good thing.

That didn't happen this summer.  This summer I had something to do almost every day.  I had to take my oldest daughter to the zoo and back twice a week.  I had a part time job twice a week.  I had this blog to think about.  My time was reduced because of those things so I had to become more efficient in other things, like housekeeping. 

And Haley can now entertain herself.

Of course that is the best thing.  That is really the thing that has made the difference.  Even the very rare times that she got to use the wading pool in the back yard were not as big of a deal as they used to be.  It used to be a huge production when she wanted to swim.  This year we put water in the pool, Haley gets into her swimsuit, she splashes for a little while and then she tells me she is done.  Simple.

So, I still didn't know why I feel dread when I think about school starting again.  I will have more time for myself, but I will also have other things to occupy that time.  I don't think it is about me. 

I think it is because Haley is making another transition.  She will be going to a new school, a bigger school, a school with bigger kids.  She will have a new teacher and a whole new set of requirements.  I don't think it will be bad, but I always got nervous when I had to change schools and I actually think I am projecting. 

Haley doesn't know what is happening.  We tell her that she will be going to a different school, we have driven by it, we have gone in and said "This is where you will be going to school this year."  I am not sure she understands and she certainly doesn't dread it.

I guess I am doing that for her.

Friday, August 26, 2011

I Wanna Hold Your Hand

Holding a small child's hand can be difficult. 

You hold their hand to keep them safe, like when you are crossing the street and all they want to do is run. 

You hold their hand to pull them the direction that you want to go while they are frantically pulling in the opposite direction. 

Sometimes those little fingers slip out of your hand because they are small, or wriggly, or slimy or because they are a good two to three feet lower than your hand comfortably hangs.

Holding a teenagers hand is something that few parents get to do.  Teenagers only hold other teenager's hands.

I still hold Haley's hand.

When we are crossing the street.  When we are walking through parking lots.  When we are at the grocery store or the mall.  When we are going up or down a flight of stairs.

She is almost my height now so our hands naturally hang down at about the same level.  Our hands are about the same size, so they fit.  I don't feel like I am holding her fingers anymore.   Our palms touch.   Her fingers curl around mine.  She actually holds my hand.  She doesn't try to pull away.

If it seems safe and if it seems like she will keep up with me I let her walk on her own now.  I am trying to let her be more independent.  She will reach out and take my hand.  Sometimes it feels like it is out of habit and sometimes it feels like she wants to.

We went for a walk with Grandma and Grandpa when we were staying at their house last weekend.  The roads that we were walking on were fairly busy so I held her hand most of the time.  We walked on a side road for a while that wasn't very busy so I let go.  It was warm and her hand was sweaty.

When we walk I sometimes have to pull her along.  It gets really tiring, especially if we are walking up hills.  Who am I kidding?  It just gets really tiring. 

So she would walk along on her own for a while and then she would sidle up to me and take my hand.

I like to hold Haley's hand these days.  It's different from holding her hand when she was little.  I am not holding her hand, we are holding each other's hands.

It is a comfortable feeling.

The other night the whole family was sitting in the living room watching television.  Haley's Dad and Big Sis were sitting on one couch and I was sitting on the other with Haley.  Haley reached over and slid her hand into mine.

We sat like that for quite a while, just holding hands.

It was nice.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

A Guided Tour

Summer is almost over and although I go to the zoo and back twice a week, we have not been to the zoo since that first trip.

We decided we needed to go.

Haley's Big Sis and I planned the trip and decided not to tell Haley until it was time to go. Her sister wanted to be the one to surprise her, so we went about our normal morning routine. The exception being that Big Sis got up early. When it was time to get Haley dressed we went upstairs and her sister was busy doing her hair.

"Haley, ask your sister where we are going," I said.  She looked at her sister. 

Big Sis said "The Zoo!"

Haley said "Yay!"

I said "Do you want to go to the Zoo?"


On the ride to the zoo Haley's Big Sis turned around in her seat and started telling Haley all about the animals. Things she had learned working at the zoo the last two months. She was excited to share these things with Haley. I don't think I have really heard her talk much about the zoo to Haley. I think she was afraid that Haley would get upset. Now was the time, though, and it all started coming out.

As we walked around the zoo and looked at the different animals Big Sis would add her knowledge. I don't know how much Haley appreciated the running commentary, but I sure did.

Not only did I learn a lot about the animals in the zoo, I learned that my daughter learned a lot. She was very enthusiastic and cheerful and helpful. She even explained things to other kids and adults that we would encounter.  If a child made an exclamation about an animal or asked a question, she answered them.

We did just about everything there is to do at the zoo.

Haley got to go in to the pens and pet both kinds of goats that her sister has been working with all summer.  Some of the other Zoo Teens recognized her and asked her why she was at the zoo on her day off.  They also asked questions about Haley, she answered those questions in much the same way that she had answered questions about animals.

I was so proud of her.

I think Haley and her sister enjoyed the zoo just a little more this time and so did I.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Talking Her Down

Haley finally got to see her Grandparents...and the cow that lives behind them.

The day finally came.  She survived.  I survived.

She didn't say all of the things that she had practiced for three weeks.

"We're Here!" "Here we are!" "Love." "Hugs." "Nice."  "Hi, how are you?"  "Good."

She didn't say much, but from the look on her face I could tell that she was really happy.  She got to go to the Tree Farm and go on a long (tough) walk and ride Grandpa's tractor.  She spent much of the weekend doing what she does at home, playing on the computer, watching her shows, playing with her toys and eating, but she was happy because she was doing it at Grandma and Grandpa's house.

At the end of the weekend she sat on the couch with her Grandma looking at her railroad catalogs.  She ended up keeping one of Grandma's catalogs that she had saved for her in "the box."  Grandma said that she wished she had spoken more during the weekend.  She knows that Haley gets her voice back as soon as we drive away.  Haley's Grandma laughed about that.

When it was time to go she smiled and hugged and said "Goodbye" and then we got in the Yukon.

As we pulled away she started yelling "GOODBYE!  GOODBYE GRANDPA!  HEATHER!  GRANDMA!  GOODBYE!"

I backed the Yukon up and rolled down the windows so that she could say goodbye to her grandparents again.  They said goodbye.  Everyone waved and smiled.  We all turned and said goodbye to Heather.  Then I pulled away again.

Then it started.

She started crying.  Then she would yell.  Then she was quiet.  Then she yelled some more.  This went on for about ten minutes.  She started hitting the window.  Then her Dad got after her.  Then she really got upset and cried a lot. 

She was miserable.

We had planned to go to dinner not far down the road.  It was a restaurant that Haley's Big Sis wanted to go to and it was less than an hour away.  We had to get Haley to calm down.  I did the only thing I know to do.  I started reminding her of all of the fun we just had.  It seems counter productive, but for some reason for her, it works.

I reminded her that she got to see Heather.  I reminded her that she got to ride between her Grandma and Grandpa in their truck on the way to the Tree Farm and back again.  That was fun.  I reminded her that we got to walk among the trees at the Tree Farm.  She liked that.  I reminded her that she got to ride Grandpa's tractor.

"Was that fun, Haley?"


"We had a lot of with Grandma and Grandpa didn't we?


I thought about telling her that we were going out to eat, but I was afraid that giving her that goal as far away as an hour was going to be too much so I didn't.  She had basically already calmed down though.

I had talked her down.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Getting There

This summer I have been trying to get Haley to use the bathroom by herself.  I just started telling her to go.  What do you know, it worked.

I say "Haley, do you need to use the bathroom?"  She usually says "Yeah."  Then I say "Go."

She goes in to the bathroom, turns on the light and shuts the door.

I wait.

I hear *tinkle, tinkle tinkle* and then she knocks.

I go in to the bathroom and she wants me to help her finish up.  I don't, but I do talk her through it.

"Take off your pants... put on a new pull-up... put on your pants... flush.  Good job!"

Then as she leaves the bathroom I ask her to shut off the light.  Each time she gets a little better, but she would be happy to let me do it for her.

I have been really consistent this last week.

Then I went to work this morning and forgot to tell her sister and her dad what I have been doing.

I came home and asked how the day went.  Apparently she put her pants on for her dad.  I still have to ask her sister.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

How many?

Haley is constantly snacking.  Constantly.  Snacking.

Sometimes she gets her own snacks.  Sometimes she just needs me to open a package or unscrew a lid.

Earlier she brought me the box of crackers and the Nutella.  She needs a little more help with this snack.  She needs me to spread the Nutella on the crackers for her.

I have been working on getting her to do things for herself this summer.  Especially in the potty training area, but all aspects of her life really.

I have also been trying to get her to understand numbers.  Specifically counting how many days it will be until we go to Grandma and Grandpa's, because I Did It Again. We count on the calendar.  We count on her paper chain her sister made.  When she starts talking about it I ask her how many days are left.  She doesn't answer. 

She doesn't get it.

Still I try.

So instead of mindlessly putting Nutella on some crackers I asked her how many she wanted.

"One," she said.

I put one cracker on the plate.  She gave me a strange look.


I put another cracker on the plate.


I put another cracker on the plate.


I took a cracker off of the plate. 

That got a reaction!  She gave me a look like she thought I was insane.


I put a third cracker on the plate.  Then she started to get upset.


"Do you mean one more?"


I put a fourth cracker on the plate.

"One," she said.

"Do you mean one more?"


I put another cracker on the plate and looked at her. 

"Is that good?" I said.


I wonder how long it will take before she gets this?

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

In Her Element

Last week the weather finally cooperated and Haley got to "swim."  Haley doesn't need a lot of water.  She doesn't actually swim, she splashes.  She splashes in pools where the water comes up to her tummy too, but I think this is her favorite kind of splashing. 

She does this constantly until it is time to get out. 

Don't believe me?  Watch this.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

If my child didn't have special needs...

If my child didn't have special needs, I wouldn't celebrate every tiny little accomplishment.  I would be proud of her, but I wouldn't truly celebrate like I do.

If my child didn't have special needs,  I wouldn't notice the accomplishments of others.  I feel like my radar is on, all of the time.

If my child didn't have special needs, her habits would be more annoying than endearing.

If my child didn't have special needs, I wouldn't appreciate the differences between my two children quite as much.  I think I would notice them, but they wouldn't bring me as much joy.

If my child didn't have special needs,  I would be different.  I would be more selfish, more self-centered, more career oriented, more impatient, more demanding, more short-tempered.  I know this because that is how I was before I had her.

If my child didn't have special needs, I wouldn't love her any more than I already do.  I love that little girl with all my heart and all my strength.

Thank you Ellen for the inspiration.

If You Ask Me

I have a new job and I am loving it.

I have wanted a job for awhile, but I have been worried that I couldn't pull it off.  When the girls are in school it seems doable, but then I think about summer. 

How could I leave them in the summer?

A job opportunity came up a while back and it seemed perfect, the adminstirave assitant position at my church.  My husband and I talked about it very seriously, but there were some concerns.  Haley's sister is my go to sitter, but I don't want to take advantage of her and expect her to watch her sister every day. I have a feeling that when they are older her sister will take on a lot of responsibility for Haley.  I don't want that to happen too soon.  The more we talked the more we realized that it just wouldn't work.

Things have changed since then. 

My husband works from home full time now.  I can't really expect him to pay attention to Haley because he is working, but it makes it seem more possible because at least her can get her off of the bus. 

The church hired an adminstrative assistant and she is great.  She is on maternity leave now, she had her baby a couple of days ago.  I was asked to be an interim adminstrive assistant part time.  I share the job with another friend from church, I work two days a week.

I have asked Haley's Big Sis to be responsible for her while I am gone.  Their dad is home, but they are supposed to act as if he is not there.  They are not to bother him, but he is there if they need him. 

I have worked five days now and there are some issues that have come up.

I came home one day and gave Haley a hug, she had really bad breath.  I asked her if she had had anything to drink.  I looked around and didn't see any glasses that looked like she had been drinking out of them.  I asked her sister.  She hadn't asked for a drink.  That is so odd, because she asks me for drinks all day long.

There was food on the counter.  Haley gets leftovers out of the fridge and puts them on the counter sometimes, that means that she is hungry.  I asked if she had fed her. She said she had had lunch.  Haley sometimes eats two or three "lunches" a day and she always asks me for snacks.  Apparently she is not doing that for her sister.

Her sister is taking her to the bathroom and changing her.  That is good, but I have asked her to make sure to offer snacks and drinks.

I think she is doing a good job of taking care of her, I just find it interesting that Haley doesn't ask for as much from her as she does from me.

I wonder what that is about?

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

I've Done It Again

When we got back home from our family vacation in Montana Haley immediately talking about going to visit Grandma and Grandpa.

We had been talking about visiting them, when Haley wasn't around. 

We decided that we should talk to them about it the next time they called.  We didn't want Haley to hear the conversation because we knew it would be awhile before we could visit and Haley doesn't really understand the concept of time.  Her Big Sis warned us - she said that Haley has a "Spidey Sense" about these things.

Grandma and Grandpa called at the regular time.  Haley got to "talk" to them, like she usually does.  Then I took the phone from her and handed it to her sister.  I told her that her sister wanted to talk to Grandma and Grandpa and then I asked her if she needed to use the bathroom.  It gave us enough time to verify the dates and get things worked out and then Haley got the phone back when she was done.

Everything seemed to go off without a hitch.

The next day when I walked into the kitchen Haley got out the dry erase markers and wanted me to write Grandma and Grandpa's house on the calendar.  I assumed that someone had told her.  It was almost August so I thought it was time to change the calendar anyway.  I cleaned July off the calendar and started adding August.  I put the visit to Grandma and Grandpa's on the calendar.

That started it.  She wanted to pack.

I tried to explain to her that it would be several weeks before we would go.  We counted the days.  I took her finger and pointed to each day as we counted.

It was no good.  She is like a broken record.  She will not stop.

Later in the day I asked her sister to help her make a paper chain like they do at school when they are counting down to an event.  That seemed to help for a little while.

The next day she was at it again.  She says she wants to "Go."  It has gotten to the point that I have to avoid that word all together.  If I use it in any context she immediately thinks I mean that we are going to Grandma and Grandpa's. 

I explain the situation to her again.  She gets mad. 

She has been having "two year old tantrums," actually throwing herself on the floor kicking and screaming.  Every morning we go through it again, she thinks that each morning we wake up it will be the day that we are going to leave.  We have spent the last three days with a very unhappy child and I am scared.  I understand time. 

She may not be counting the days, but I am.


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