Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Green and White

Haley is excited about the Christmas decorations.  She knows Christmas is coming.  She also knows that means presents.

She walked in to the living room Monday night and pointed to the Countdown Santa Claus that I have sitting on a high shelf and said "Presents!"

I said "That says there are 28 days until Christmas."


"28 days until presents."

"Yay! Woo! Hoo!"

"Are you excited about getting presents?"


"What would you like for a present?"



"You want one of your presents to be green?"


"OK, I can do that.  One of your presents will be green.  What kind of present do you want?"


"OK, so you want to have a green present and a white present."


Fast forward to this morning...

She comes down the stairs and sits on the couch and points up to the Countdown Santa and says "Green and White."


Tuesday, November 29, 2011

The Finishing Touch

After the girls left the house on Monday I got busy decorating the house for Christmas.  I decorate by myself.  I had two fewer hours this year than I have had in the past. 

I almost got done.

The problem is that I never decorate the house exactly the same way.

I take pictures of the decorations every year.  I have learned that although I enjoy being creative, when it comes to decorating sometimes I get frustrated and I want to get done quickly.  I took a first run at it and everything looked pretty good, but I wasn't happy with a few things.  So I looked at the pictures from last year. 

I had failed to take pictures of some areas, but luckily Haley had taken a few *cough* dozen - so I could piece it together.

You might think that I could just put things up the same way every year, but I can't.  The decorator in me wants to play.  I had to keep telling her that she didn't have time.  I am racing against the clock.  I usually like to decorate the whole house and have all of the boxes put away before Haley gets home.

I didn't make it.

I didn't even get the tree up.

Haley immediately knew something was up when the bus pulled in front of the house.  My husband had put the giant wreath above the garage door.  So she came running.  She saw the front door and said "Oooooooo!  Christmas!"

She proceeded to walk around the house looking at everything, pointing at everything and saying "Ooooo..."

I asked her if something was missing.  She didn't bite. 

"Do you see a tree?"

She walked around the house again.

"Do you think I should put up a Christmas Tree?"

"Yeah." she said.

I got the tree out and put it together.  She got out the star.  I explained to her that I needed to put the lights on it.  As I went through the lights to see which ones would light up this year she grabbed a set and left the room. 

Pretty soon I could hear her Dad from upstairs saying "Take those back down to your Mom."

She brought them back and then stood and watched me for a few minutes.  Then she went in the family room and put one of the Christmas videos in that I had stacked on the floor next to the TV.  I thought about putting them in the cupboard for her to find, but I figured we were in for a marathon anyway I might as well make it easy for her.

After I got the lights and the garland on the tree I had to make dinner.  I also know from experience that I cannot decorate the tree by myself.  Haley's Big Sis wants to do it, so I left it for her.

After dinner I sat down on the couch.  Haley brought me the star for the tree.  Her Big Sis was playing a video game.  She told Haley we could decorate the tree when she finished the level she was on. 

Haley left the room.

She had occupied herself by playing on the computer.

We came in to the room and Big Sis plugged in the lights.  I put on some Christmas music and we started decorating the tree. 

Haley had the star. 

We showed her how to hang the ornaments.  She put one the tree and and that was enough.  She wanted the star on.  I told her she had to wait.  The star perches on the top of the tree in a very precarious way.  It is probably the heaviest thing we put on the tree.  If we were to bump the tree while we were decorating it the star would fall off.  I knew that Haley didn't understand that. 

She didn't like to wait, but I know that if the star fell off the tree she would like that even less.

Finally we finished.

Finally the star went on.

I am still not done, but it is good enough for the first day.  I will work on the house some more when the girls are in school.

Then I will play.

Monday, November 21, 2011

I Blew It

What I don't understand is why after almost two months of school I cannot get used to the fact that Haley gets home at 2:00pm.

Remember a while back when I was so proud of myself for coming up with a great Christmas Present for Haley? 

Well, it arrived. 

I opened it, checked it out and set it down on my desk.

I realized that I needed to go upstairs for something.  As I got to the top of the stairs and saw the time on the alarm clock in Haley's Big Sis's room and realized that the bus would be here at any moment.  I ran back down the stairs and looked out of the window.

Sure enough, the bus was here.

After I got Haley squared away I headed back upstairs to finish what I was doing. 

Pretty soon Haley came up behind me all excited.  I turned to see what she was talking about and...

"SHIT!" I yelled.

Haley's eyes got big.  Her Dad yelled "What's wrong?"

I quickly backpedaled.  "What do you have there, Haley?"


I told her it was supposed to be her Christmas present. I asked her if she was surprised.

She obviously loved it.

I said "Go show your Dad."

The rest of the day she walked around talking about it.   She kept saying "Daylight.  Cute.  I like it."

Her Dad just keeps laughing at me.

I deserve it.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Another IEP

Last week my husband and I attended a meeting with Haley's teacher "B" to discuss her Individualized Education Program (IEP) at school. 

Her teacher instructed us to call him B, because it is easier for his students to say.

The IEP meeting is a time when we can help the teacher figure out how and what to teach her.  Each child gets their own IEP and so the teacher has very specific things to focus on for all of the kids in his class.  Haley's teacher is young and enthusiastic.  He has high hopes for Haley, as do we.

We discussed some of the things that were previously on her IEP and how she has achieved them.  Some we can remove because they no longer apply, like those geared more to her Middle School experience. 

She is in High School now, so her learning is changing.

One of the things that will be changing is that she will be in an "apartment program."  The Special Education department has set up one of their classrooms to be an apartment.  They have a kitchen, a dining room, a living room and a bed.  Haley will be "in the apartment" for a week.  She will be paired with another student in the apartment and she will have her one-on-one with her.  While there she and her partner will plan all of the meals, do all of the shopping and cooking and cleaning up.  She will even get to go to a "job."

I am excited about this program.  Not only will she be able to learn how to take care of herself, but I can watch!  They have an area that I can come in to without Haley being able to see me.  I will be able to observe her in action.  I am planning on going in after she has had a chance to get familiar with the apartment.

While we were talking about what she will learn I realized that I haven't been teaching her to do many of the things that she will be learning.  I tend to take care of her.  I don't expect her to be self-sufficient. 

I will be learning as well.

Her teacher asked us what kinds of things we would like him to teach her.  We talked about recognizing signs around the school (like the exit signs) and what to do if she sees the sign.  We talked about learning who to go to for help.  The teacher pointed out that she is never alone, which is a good thing, but we still want her to know the other teachers, the secretaries, the principal and security guards.

The speech therapist was there too.  It is always a bit disheartening to talk to a new speech therapist.  This one at least knows that she can speak, but because she is still in her shy mode he doesn't know how well she can speak.  We told him some of the things that she says at home and his eyes got big.  He hasn't heard any of it. 

He has been working with her to just say "Yes" and "No."  We told him that she says "yeah" instead of "yes" and that we have only heard her say "no" once.  We told him the story.

He wants to determine what she knows by showing her cards with pictures on them of household items.  He showed us the cards.  We agreed that she probably didn't know the things on the cards.  It was a bit embarrassing for us.  Haley knows a lot of things.  She can recognize every animal, all kinds of vehicles, more trains than most human beings and everything Disney related, but she wasn't recognizing toothbrush, comb, hair brush, and soap. 

We don't talk about the day to day things in our house I guess.  I don't know why.  It was very weird to realize that. 

Lately she has been curious about what I am doing when I make dinner.  I have been explaining my processes and what I am using.  I guess I need to do a lot more of that.

The IEP meeting is for the teacher to determine what Haley needs to learn.

Apparently it is also for her parents to learn the same thing.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Haley's Photography

So if you have been around here for a while you know that when Haley gets a hold of my camera she doesn't just take one or two pictures. 

She takes fifty or sixty or more.

The other day when she was taking pictures of her Big Sis carving her Halloween pumpkin she took a lot of other pictures as well.  I love going through all of Haley's pictures.  I actually think she has a pretty good eye.

I have assembled here some of my favorites from that day. 

There was good light. 

I call this series:

"Surfaces and Shadow"

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Halloween Holiday Happenings

Haley's Big Sis decided that she and her BFF and Haley would all be Mermaids for Halloween this year.  She decided that in plenty of time for us to figure out how we were going to pull it off.

As it turned out I had most of what I needed to make the costumes here at home. I made one trip to the fabric store and I started sewing.

I used to sew all of the time, before I had kids.

I had such dreams of sewing for my children, especially because they were girls. I dreamt of the frilly dresses I would make. The matching outfits.

I actually have fabric, patterns and notions for several outfits that never happened.

I learned early on that me sewing and Haley don't mix, but I had kind of forgotten what that meant.

I had everything set up and was working away when Haley's bus arrived.  I brought her in, helped her get settled and gave her snack.  Next thing I know she was watching me.  I tried to explain what I was doing.  Soon the mood in the room turned.  She didn't really say anything and it is hard to put in to words what was happening.  It was just extremely hard to continue.  Her sister tried to distract her several times, but she made herself very disruptive.  Needless to say I didn't get finished.

I put everything away and tried it again the next day.

Haley's Big Sis came home from school that day with a plan.  She changed her clothes when she got home and went right out and got her pumpkin and carried it to the back patio.  She got knives and spoons and a big bowl and set to work carving.

So Haley had a decision to make.  Would she make my life miserable while I sewed or would she make her sister's life miserable while she carved.

She got a sweater and her shoes and headed outside.

I took a few pictures of the activities and then I got back to work. 

After a while her Big Sis opened the patio door and said "Do you know that Haley has the camera?"

"She has good light, maybe she will take some good shots."  I said.

Well, I was right.

Pretty soon she came in, marched through the house and out the front door.  She came back in with her pumpkin and headed out the patio door again.

That was when I stopped sewing and I jumped up and grabbed a Sharpie.

I headed out the door after her.

I knew that her sister was not going to be able to help her with her pumpkin and I didn't have the time nor the inclination to help her either.

I said "Haley do you want to draw on your pumpkin?"

I thought that she might make a cute face, she has been drawing some really great faces lately.

She said "Yeah!" and grabbed the pen.

She wrote her name on the top of the pumpkin, smiled, handed me the pen and headed back in the house. I grabbed the camera and chased her down as she got to the front porch.

That's my kid!

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

The Pumpkin Patch

Last weekend Haley's Big Sis insisted that we visit the pumpkin patch.  We didn't do it last year and she didn't want to miss it again.

We headed out late in the day, because we were busy in the morning.  It was pretty good weather, considering.  The place was packed and it wasn't easy finding a parking space.

Once inside Haley remembered all of the fun that she had had in the past and started leading us around to the things she remembered.  The hay pyramid, the farm animals, the hay maze and of course, the corn pit.

It is like a ball pit only with corn.  It is really pretty clever.  She had a great time in it two years ago and she remembered it.  It seemed like it was quite a bit bigger this year. 

She had a great time.

After that we got in line for the hay ride out to the pumpkins.  It was a long line, but it moved fairly quickly.  We talked about each tractor as it went by.  The farm had many different types of tractors, John Deere, Farmall, and others that I hadn't even heard of.  We talked about the colors. 

I tried to distract her from the pony rides.  She was convinced that she would ride on them, but I tried to explain to her that she was just too big. 

Soon we boarded the hay ride and we were off.  Haley loved the ride behind the tractor.  It was a bit bumpy in a couple of parts and the other passengers moaned and screamed for fun, that disturbed Haley a little bit.  I smiled at her and she seemed to realize that she wasn't in any danger.

We finally arrived and began looking for the perfect pumpkins.

Haley was unhappy with the state of most of the pumpkins.  Quite a few of them were smashed or broken or rotting.  She would choose one only to find out that it wouldn't do.  It took quite a while to find just the right one.

I have had a rule for a long time in our family that whoever selects a pumpkin must be able to carry it.  Haley knew that rule.  She didn't challenge it.  She carried her pumpkin like a trouper.

She never put it down.  Her sister set hers down several times and I was afraid that Haley would want to do that too, but she didn't.

We had a great time at the pumpkin patch.


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