Friday, September 17, 2010

Always Learning :)

Jordan sleeps with her big sister, Jordan.  A couple of nights ago they were laying in bed together, talking before going to sleep.  While talking Jessie brought up that she had written on Jordan's t.v. earlier in the day.  When she had done it earlier, Jordan had scolded her and given her a pop on the bottom and Jessie was angry about getting in trouble.  She didn't seem to be repentant at all.  While talking in bed, she (Jessie) said she was sorry she wrote on Jordan's t.v.  Jordan said she thought another second and then told Jordan she would clean it up.  When Jordan told me about this the next morning, you can imagine that it made my mama heart very happy.

Two things:  #1, Jessie was obviously laying there thinking over her day, LIKE THE REST OF US DO when we lay in bed at night.  I've never known before if Jessie thinks back over things in that same way.  I know Jessie continues to talk about something fun we've done that she wants to do again, but this was clearly different.  When Jessie was younger it was so hard that often we didn't know for sure exactly what she was thinking.  I am amazed constantly at how her communication has improved.  Not only her ability to speak well enough to be understood,  but to be able to find the words to communicate what it is she wants to say.  It seems like she surprises me with something she says almost every day.

#2:  She realized she had done wrong, she was sorry, AND she wanted to make it right.  Wow!  There are certainly plenty of times when she is genuinely sorry for something she's done and she tries to clean up her mess, etc.  In the heat of the moment Jessie wasn't sorry, but after a "cooling off period" she could see more clearly.  There are many adults that could learn from her example :) 

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

The End of Summer :(

The summer has gone by way too fast. I don't know how it slipped away from me. There was a whole lot less floating in the pool than I had anticipated....and a whole lot more of driving my teenagers everywhere. Jordan babysat 3 days per week, so for the 1st time ever, she wasn't around every day. That was sad for both Jessie and me, Evan didn't really care unless he was asked to do an extra chore because she was gone :)

We are trying this week to get into something that resembles a routine, that definitely isn't one of my strengths. I'd rather be flexible and fly by the seat of my pants, but have realized, sadly, that doesn't work well for us. We found last year that Evan has a sleep disorder, so partly for that reason we are trying to get up at the same time everyday (not Jessie, we tiptoe around trying to keep that little monster asleep as long as possible:) I'm sure that no matter what modifications we make, we will never be as structured as many other homeschool families, but we are working on some improvements. I have always loved the flexibility of homeschooling and am not willing to give up more of it than is required for my sanity.

This summer, although we didn't work on any academics with Jessie, we made real progress in some other areas. If you are reading this and you DON'T have a child with Down syndrome, some of these milestones may not seem like much. If you DO have a child with Down syndrome, I'm sure you're cheering with me! With the school year pressures of having 3 homeschooling kids, it is hard to slow down enough to teach the skills that give Jessie more independence. I always feel desperate for her to learn those skills, yet find it difficult to slow down to work on many of them. This summer Jessie learned to buckle her own seatbelt. This was SUCH a relief! Up till now I'd been lifting or partially lifting Jessie to get her out of the car. We decided she was big enough that she didn't have to ride in a booster seat anymore. She weighs at least 85 pounds and is tall enough that the seatbelt rests in approximately the right place on her shoulder. I'd been having a little complication (mild uterine prolapse) that caused me to want to find ways to eliminate having to lift her. Once we got her out of the booster seat we were able to teach her to step down the side of the van holding my hand and the hand strap on the van. After a few weeks now of doing this, more often she is getting out entirely by herself, by sitting down on the floor first. As soon as she could buckle the seat belt we started working on shutting her door by herself. She can do this now, if she remembers to do it before she puts her seat belt on. This past spring we got new tennis shoes with velcro, now she can put on (most) socks and shoes by herself. These seemingly small steps of independence have been so exciting to me.

We haven't reached success level yet with the following skills, but are working on teeth brushing, hair washing/bathing, and picking up after herself around the house in various ways. As long as we buy the pump toothpaste she can fix her own tooth brush and has made real progress with brushing her bottom teeth, but we still have quite a way to go before she can do it alone. More often we are making her put away, some of her things, she drags out way too much for her to be able to do it alone, but we are trying to help her realize dragging out more = more clean up. One skill we are less thrilled about: she can now unchain the door. We've always counted on that extra measure of security keeping her in the house. Unlike some other kids I know with DS, Jessie doesn't like to be alone, so she has no real desire to go outside by herself. I worry though that she could open the door to someone when I'm in the shower or try to let the dogs out and get distracted. It is very helpful that most often there is someone else always home when I shower.

Well, if I am to keep to my appointed time to get up in the morning, I must go to bed :)  I was excited to share these new accomplishments with you, my blog friends, knowing you would understand and be excited with us.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Glasses specifically designed for people with Down Syndrome: Specs 4 Us

I had known for a while that Jessie had grown a lot since we'd last gotten new frames, and was soon going to need new glasses. Then, she broke a part on the nose piece that couldn't be repaired.  I'd been dreading this day.  We'd been wearing the same style flexible glasses for a LONG time and they had worked well for us. They had the temple that wrapped around the back of the ear;  Jessie was wearing the largest size they came in :(  The people at DenneyVision here have always been awesome to us.  They ALL (several ladies in the frame section and several men that do repairs and adjustments) know Jessie by name.  We've been getting glasses with them since Jessie was 7 months old and she's 8 1/2 now.  When she was really young, we had to FREQUENTLY have adjustments, that's when they really got to know us.

When we went in to look for new glasses this time, I asked them if they carried, or could order Specs 4 Us.  I'd heard about them on a Homeschooling and Down Syndrome yahoo group.  Specs 4  Us has frames that are specifically designed to fit the facial features that are typical of a person with Down syndrome.  I didn't feel comfortable ordering them without being able to see them on her, and the nearest place that sold them was a couple of hours away.  I didn't mind driving to the beach to check them out :), but I was worried about being able to get adjustments and repairs if I didn't purchase them locally.  The first person I asked at Denneyvision if they carried them or could order them said, "Nope, we don't have an account with them".

Jessie had decided that she wanted purple glasses....she would have been happy with pink also, but she knew she wanted glasses this time that were a cute color. This is the first time she's been old enough to express an opinion in the glasses shopping.  We tried on every pair of children's glasses that looked like something we would consider.  They all were not wide enough to fit her face.  We branched out to the teen and adult sections and looked around in the entire store (they have a ton of frames) and found 2 pair of "teen" glasses that were the closest possibilities. The two cute, purple pair of glasses seemed to fit the width of her face but the temples (arms/legs) were a couple of inches too long.  We were unsure whether the guys in the back could bend them into shape enough to work. Narrowing it down to those two took a long time so we had to leave and planned to come back the next day. 

This day when I came in, I had a different helper from the frame department.  When I mentioned that I wished they carried the Specs 4 Us, she immediately began researching whether they could order them or not.  She was willing and helpful but couldn't find out all she needed to know at that moment.  We left AGAIN, her distributor (?) was coming the next day and she was going to talk to them about whether they could order them.  She went to a couple of the doctors there, talking to them about our dilemma, she really went way out of her way trying to accomodate us.  She told me that we are not the only ones that have had a hard time, but that sometimes they order and have to send back and reorder (sometimes several times)  trying to find glasses that will work.  She said it would benefit them as well, to have some glasses that work for people with DS.  They have a pretty good amount of customers with DS so they found it worth their while to order some glasses rather than trying to make modifications to the ones they already have, and it not working perfectly.  She ordered 3 styles for us to check out and got them in just 2 days.  Today, Jessie is the proud owner of new, PURPLE glasses.   You can't tell anything about the color by this picture, but imagine they are purple :) You can see the actual glasses better by going to the link below.

They do fit differently.  The bridge across the nose is wider.  The temples are shorter, a good bit shorter, than the other ones we tried on.  They were able to warm them and mold them to still come behind her ear a little bit so they would "hold on" a little better.  It is hard getting used to her new look.  Her other glasses had gotten too small and I was used to looking at them.  These seem so much bigger. Although they are supposed to be fitted to not slide down on the nose, Jessie's are doing that, I am hoping this can be resolved with a little adjustment. After we've had them a bit, I will give an update to let everyone know how they are working out for us.

You can look at these glasses on line .  If, like me, you prefer to be able to get them locally, request that your eyeglasses place check them out. I'm not terribly assertive, and if Sally had not been so willing to help us, I would probably have ended up with other glasses that might not fit as well.  They have a great selection of colors that kids like.  They have sizes from toddler to adult.  Sally said that dealing with Specs 4 Us was very easy.  She said they were very helpful in determining which ones for her to order based on Jessie's measurements and style we were looking for AND didn't require that they set up an account that might have caused a delay.  Sally thanked me for bringing this to their attention, saying that otherwise they would never have known about them. 

I hope this info helps someone else that is having difficulty finding well fitting glasses for the person they love that has Down syndrome.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Spelling Puzzles

I found this Spelling puzzle at Ross for just $4.99. I was tempted to buy more, but I have a habit of buying a bunch of stuff that I sometimes don't end up using, so I restrained myself.  Jessie is not terribly good with puzzles, although it's something that we started doing on a very simple level with her (knob puzzles first) when she was very young.  Today was the first time we used the Spelling puzzles, she saw it in the cabinet and asked for it.  This set contains 20 puzzles with only 3 and 4 letter words.  I liked that only one letter was on each piece, and because puzzles aren't her strength, the fewer pieces work for us. I know that since she will do several (10 today) words in a sitting she won't remember the spelling after one or two times, but her visual memory is so good that this is a lower effort/fun way for her to learn how to spell some new words.  Yay! I love when we find a new way to approach things we are already working on. I wouldn't necessarily have chosen every one of these words as her first spelling words, but, I think it will make spelling these words more fun for her.  There were a couple of other choices of spelling puzzles available.  Truly, I can't remember what made me choose this one over the others, they may not have all been 1 letter per puzzle piece.

I know, all this time without a new post from me and today, two in one day!  Things have been crazy busy around here.  Crazy busy....older kids play rehearsals, finishing coop, Miracle League games, dance, gymnastics. Jessie had her dance recital (which deserves its own post), so dance is is done....there is light at the end of the tunnel...summer is coming....floating in the pool...slower schedule....floating in the pool (!)...I am eagerly looking forward to the more relaxed pace of summer. 

Jessie read a blend!! Our phonics experience thus far...

I was completely taken by surprise. She just did it. I didn't at all expect it. We were working in our Bob Jones Phonics workbook*. I bought this workbook as recommended to go along with the adapted Kindergarten Bob Jones curriculum. We had used the adapted K-4 successfully, so I had started the beginning of the school year with the adapted K-5. We didn't stick with it very long as she just wasn't ready for the reading with phonics.  She loved the colorful readers and the first few she really enjoyed, until we reached the part where she was expected to begin reading "word families". For example, taking the word it, that she can already read, then adding a letter to the beginning to read hit and sit. She has known all of her letter sounds since she was 3. She just hasn't been ready to progress to blending the sounds together. She seemed to understand the concept, but it required something of her that she just wasn't ready to give.  Even with sight reading, which she does very well, sometimes she is easily frustrated and just doesn't want to give it that much mental effort. Although I discontinued, temporarily at least, the rest of the curriculum, I continued to use (sporadically) the phonics workbook just to "keep" what we already learned and modified it if it required something she wasn't ready for. We don't work out of this workbook every day that we have school, so she hasn't gotten bored with it and we haven't progressed in the book beyond her current skill level. Other than letter sounds, the other benefit to this workbook has been vocabulary. There are pictures on the pages where we identify the beginning letter. She knows most of the pictures, but some are more detailed than she might identify them. A cactus she might call a plant, a wig she'd never had reason to know (!) and well (water well) same thing. You get the idea.

Today, we were using the phonics page to review the letter sounds and determine which pictures began with an H. At the end of this assignment the words it, hit, and sit were in a box at the bottom. I knew she could read the word " it".  I pointed and asked her what the word was. She responded appropriately. So, I asked, "Do you know the next word?"  I didn't expect her to say it. She looked at it. She said, "h....hit."  I got SO crazy excited that my son in another room thought something was wrong or someone was hurt!  I was shouting, "Hallelujah!" and we were giving double high fives and going nuts. Just to see, I said, "Can you read the next one?" Again, she just did it, "s....sit". Hallelujah! I feel we have turned a corner that I've longed to look around for a long time.

*Phonics Practice for K-5. This workbook can be purchased separately, directly from Bob Jones University Press.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Children with Down syndrome are so loving....??

When we meet new people and they say things like how loving all people with Down syndrome are, it seems a stereotype that isn't at all how I see Jessie.  She is very loving but those would not be the first words that come to mind in describing her.  I wonder, "Have YOU met my Jessie?"  She is such a spunky, stubborn (she fits that stereotype!), fun, funny, girl with her own personality.  Jessie has such a *"Hall" sense of humor. One of the things I've always loved about my husband is his ability to make me laugh.  He is truly a funny guy. Sometimes goofy, but mostly funny.  After all these years, his sense of humor has rubbed off on me....and then the kids.  We don't play truly mean pranks, but we love to play jokes on one another.  Our humor often is sarcastic but without meanness.  We love to be silly and take each other off guard by doing something unexpected....just for fun.  I think it's a sign of her intelligence that Jessie, too, is funny this way without copying exact things that we've done in the past.  She comes up with her own humor that mimics our style.  If I had to use just one word to describe Jessie, I think it would be fun. Of course, everything about her isn't fun, but if only allowed one word, fun would have to be it.

 I've started trying to write down some of the funny things Jessie says and does. Here are a few of Jessie's most recent times of entertaining us:

I KNOW that Jessie greatly prefers fried chicken, not baked chicken. I had already told her that our supper was going to be baked chicken, not fried. It had been a while since I had made baked chicken so I wasn't really sure if she would remember what the difference was. 

Me:  Do you want some chicken?
Jessie: Yeah!
Me:  It's baked chicken.
Jessie: uugggghh, gross. Disgust dripping from her voice.
I do not know where she picked up this phrase to use so appropriately, but she's been using it a fair amount lately when I'm serving anything that isn't fried or contains vegetables or fruit.  Maybe this one was a "you had to be there" for it to be funny. 

Jessie has a fascination with money.  She doesn't understand the concept of "how much" where money is concerned, but she does know that dollars are better than change.  She will take change when it is all she can get, but she prefers "dollars". She has been known to take money from our wallets, Jordan's bedside table, etc.  She is a very cheerful giver at church with OUR STOLEN MONEY.  One Sunday, her Sunday School teacher was commenting on all the change Jessie had brought with her....I had known nothing about it.  We later decided the money had come from Jordan's nightstand.  She also loves to "pay".  She wants us to give her "dollars" so that she can pay with her own money from her wallet when she wants a snack/drink at gymnastics or a "shwushwee" (slushee) at Target. There are many funny, and many not so funny, discussions about money at our house.

Jessie:  Hey Mommy. Smiling so sweetly.
Jessie:  I love you. I know she wants something....
Jessie:   Give me a dollar.   I'm a sweetheart.......She really meant, "I'm your sweetheart" or "I'll be your sweetheart". She clearly understands that money is desirable and her affection is a tool for negotiation!

Jessie sleeps with her older sister, Jordan, in Jordan's room. Usually Jordan sleeps nearest the door and Jessie sleeps on the side next to the wall. Recently, Jessie usually lays on the couch to go to sleep, then later wakes up and goes to Jordan's bed during the night.  Some of the time Jordan has started just moving over and Jessie climbs up on the outside edge. One night that they laid down to go to bed together rather than her falling asleep on the couch Jessie started this conversation:

Jessie:  Please, Jordan, can we switch sides tonight?
Jordan:  No, I wanna read so I need this side (by the lamp).
Jessie:  Come on, friends. She smiles, angelicly, irresistably (Jordan's words:)
Jordan:  No, sorry Jessie, maybe another night. Jordan moves Jessie over.
Jessie:  Then you pay me my dollar!!
Jordan thought this was all so cute and wanted to be sure to be able to tell it to me so she rolled over and typed this into Notepad on her phone.

Jessie has gone through a phase of calling Evan "boy".  This is NOT just that she knows he is a boy.  She meant it to be funny.  For several days, every time she referred to Evan she would just say boy.  We were in the restroom at coop. 

Jessie:  Where's Jordan?
Me:  She's in her class.
Jessie:  Boy?
Me:  Evan's in his class too.  We don't know how or why this started but it was downright hilarious.  Then, as suddlenly as it began, it was over.  Moved on to something new.

Hope my funny girl has made you smile :)

*For those of you that know us online and not in person, our last name is Hall.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Learning With Stickers

 I apologize that I don't know how to rotate the picture! We have had this sticker book for quite a while, but was reminded to try it again when my friend Heather recently showed me hers.  The last time we'd used it Jessie was more quickly frustrated with it.  She has really been enjoying it again this time around. We bought this sticker book at Sam's Club.
Typically, in a sitting, we will do a 2 page spread (sounds like we're talking about scrapbooking, doesn't it?). This day all the pictures were things you would either find in a tool shed or at school.  The part that gets a bit tricky is that not all the pictures that belong on one page are found on the same page of stickers.  I find the stickers we'll need for the day and only give her those so the task doesn't seem too difficult.  Some of the other categories of pages are :  Our Bodies, Things we do, Clothes we wear, In the home, Toys and games, Food, Fruits and vegetables, Town and city, Things that go, Farm babies, Pets, Birds,Wild Animals, Little Critters, Sea Animals, At the beach, Time, Sticker Alphabet, Counting Stickers, Opposites, Shapes, Colors. 

Jessie has enjoyed this activity.  It has given us some variety in our school day.  This has been an excellent fine motor exercise, she still has a hard time lining the stickers up perfectly on their outline.  It has also been very helpful for categorizing.  I don't think she "gets" that in just reading books, but this way she "sees" what goes together.  It has been excellent for vocabulary as well. Many of the pictures aren't things we would normally talk about.  Although she won't remember all of them, it has given her exposure to new things that aren't in our day otherwise. 
Jessie is always happy these days to pose for a picture for my "bwog".  When I take pictures of her school work she knows that's where it's going. As a record of what we've been working on I write the date at the top of the page.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Really Proud of My Kids

The first part of this week we've taken a light week of school, so that we could volunteer at a local ministry.  It is Spring Break for the city schools, and this ministry, Mama Tina's, was doing a feeding program and play time with the kids in their neighborhood.  I had never been to Mama Tina's before and Jordan had learned about what they were planning for this week when she volunteered the week before with  FLOW (a volunteer program with our homeschool group). 

Jordan has been to Mama Tina's three times.  Each time she went, the founder would tell the teens about the programs they have for the people they serve there.  Jordan has been coming home and telling me about it each time.  This place tugged at her heart, and she felt God might be trying to tell her something.  She's just 15, but for at least a couple of years she has truly cried out to God (and cried at times) wanting to hear a word from Him.  She has heard from a couple of her friends that they feel called to be missionaries at some point, and even felt called to specific countries. Jordan has felt envious of their certainty about what God said to them.  Truly, and this isn't mama bragging, I don't know any young person who seeks the heart of God more sincerely than she does.  I have hurt for her at times, as she has so desperately wanted to know that God was speaking to HER.  After visiting Mama Tina's those 3 times (and she's been volunteering at other very different places as well) she wanted us as a family to volunteer and find a way to be involved at Mama Tina's.  She felt drawn to Mama Tina's in a different way than the other places.  She said she felt God  might be telling her something........Woohoo!

The ministry of Mama Tina's is very varied.  They have a soup kitchen, a clothes closet, they offer GED classes and childcare for those parents taking the classes, they partner with another ministry to help children who have an incarcerated parent. They have addiction recovery programs.  They were sure to point out that they wanted to help those willing to help themselves, that wanted something better for their life, not enabling addicted persons to keep doing what it is they do.

 Listening to the founder talk about the programs they offer, and the people they serve, it struck Jordan what a really good life she's had.  Things aren't perfect for her as they aren't for anyone, but she's had no major drama in her life.  She's never been hungry.  Her parents have never divorced.  We don't have any addiction problems (in our immediate household).  We've always taken her to church, and more importantly, at home, we've always taught her about the Lord.  Our home life isn't perfect. She's been yelled at (by me), unfortunately, she's heard her parent's argue. Even so, she's had a very stable, secure life. She knows with no doubts how very loved and truly cherished she is by both her parents. She knows, yelling at each other or not, we are committed to each other and our family for the long haul.  Don't misunderstand: She knows ABOUT a lot of painful or  negative life experiences, they just thankfully, haven't happened to her.  She knows about my upbringing which was nothing like hers.  She has recently been made aware how blessed she is to have had a good life, specifically a good family life.  Jordan and I talk all the time, about everything. I love that we have become friends as well as mother and daughter in her teenage years.   So, while I have been thinking about and praying for orphans....she has felt burdened for them as well.  Having started out thinking about children who have no family, she is now thinking about children who haven't had a family life like hers...stable, loving, knowing she can count on her parent's always being there for her.  No matter what. 

We showed up at Mama Tina's Monday, not too sure what to expect.  Monday and Tuesday, we helped prepare and serve food and played and talked with the children that came.  We had to take turns a bit keeping up with Jessie, but most of the time she was happy to just be around the other children there.  I was so proud of the way my children served and behaved. Although it was initially Jordan that caused us to be there, Evan served with the same love that Jordan did. Tuesday, when Evan offered to help with the grilling hamburgers he was quickly put in charge of that and cooked burgers for about three hours. Never once, did they say they were tired of being there, tired of working or wanted to go home.  I know that some people serve to make themselves look good, or serve because they've been taught that it's a good thing to do.  My children seem to really get that in order to serve Him, you have to serve others.  I think they really understand that before people will be interested in hearing about Jesus, sometimes you have to minister to physical and emotional needs, they need to see Jesus before they know they want and need Him. 

I am very proud of my kids.  Not a puffed up kind of proud.  But a humble, thankful, tearful, thankful, tearful, thankful proud that the years we've invested in teaching them about the Lord....they seem to have heard some of it. That isn't a typo, I realize I repeated myself.

I don't know in what ways we will be involved in Mama Tina's but I feel we will continue to be. There are a few people there that already have a piece of our hearts.  I don't know exactly what God is saying to Jordan.  But I am thankful that she has a relationship with Him, that she has sought Him, and that He IS showing himself to her.  He is faithful and true.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

"Nice Try!"

Today I took both my girls shopping at Target.  We were crossing the parking lot, and a car (reluctantly), stopped for us to cross.  Jessie looked back and said, "Nice Try!".  Jordan and I looked at each other, not believing what she'd said.  I can't know for sure, she wouldn't elaborate, but we both thought she meant because she thought they were trying to hit us and missed.  My funny girl.

Sweetly Watching Sissy

Jessie standing on the couch, watching through a cut out between the living room and kitchen, while her sister is washing dishes.

For those that don't know it, the large V shaped space between Jessie's big toe and her next toe, is a characteristic of Down syndrome.  That first toe...I call that her rebellious toe, it's as long as her big toe, and is a carbon copy of that same toe on her daddy's foot.  My nose fits perfectly in that V  :)

Friday, March 12, 2010

Indoor Picnic

For days Jessie had known that we were planning a picnic at the park, with our friends Heather and Joshua.  All along I'd told her, IF IT DOESN"T RAIN ON THURSDAY.  Of course, last night I could tell it was going to rain, so I went ahead and gave her the bad news.  She has such a completely broken hearted cry at times, you would do anything to make it better.  I was scrambling, trying to come up with something that would ease her disappointment.  "We'll have an indoor picnic.  Remember, like on Caillou, we'll spread out our blanket." She wasn't sure at first what she thought about that idea, but by this morning she was excited about it.  By the time it was actually time to go, it had dried up enough to go to the park after all, but now she was sold on the indoor picnic! When it was time to pack our lunch, Jessie got her own little cooler/lunchbag and packed Capri Sun's for herself and Joshua.  She also packed them some fruit snacks, crackers and yogurt raisins.  She was very matter of fact about it. She packed those things, then brought the bag to show me.  She was proud to have done it by herself. 
Once at Heather's house, Jessie and Joshua got busy spreading their blankets, his Tigger blanket, her heart blanket.

Getting it just right......
While Jessie was eating her sandwich, Joshua read her a book
Turkey sandwich with mayo and ketchup, her strange new favorite sandwich

After lunch, outside to swing a little bit......
then back in for a little treat.  Heather had made homemade cinnamon rolls, so yummy with ice cream. Jessie and Joshua scarfed up some ice cream and came back for more.

Next, they concentrated so intently on painting some Christmas ornaments.  I know it's not
Christmas time, but.....we will enjoy having them next year.
Then, they played a little guitar

sweet friends

my sweet little musician. 

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Desperate for Spring......

Jessie and I went to the park today for just an hour.  The sun was out so bright this morning that I thought it was warmer than it actually was.  Once we got out there it was still pretty cold and very windy.  We haven't been outside though in what seems like forever till the last couple days, so I really wanted to take her to the park.  Our friends Joshua and Heather met us there.  We are both so busy these days we have to squeeze in an hour here and an hour there. 

There had only been the four of us at the park and they left just a few minutes before we did.  Jessie wanted to play in the sand that is around the swing set, but it was pretty damp.  Since it was so damp it made it perfect for play, you just didn't want to sit in it.  Jessie made a little castle with a stick in the top.  I took a pecan and wrote I <3 Jessie in the sand.  When I showed it to her, thinking she would think it was cute, the little turkey was aggravated and told me to write love.  Recently, she learned to spell love and didn't like me substituting a heart!

Where we live we don't have much of a spring, which I hate because I LOVE spring.  It seems to go from winter to summer in the blink of an eye, just skipping over spring. I love to sit outside near the pool, when it isn't warm enough to swim, so it's very pleasant to sit and enjoy the sunshine.  The pool pump running makes the water move and I love the sound, (although artificial), of the water.   It's still too cold yet, but very soon that will be my favorite spot. I will sit out there with coffee and my Bible in the mornings.  Not early, but at what time I get up :), which I won't reveal lest you think I'm lazy.  When the weather is decent that is always where I go to make a phone call, leaving the chaos of the kids behind in the house.  They know (although they don't always obey!) that if they see me with my Bible or on the phone out there that they shouldn't come out.  That will be my favorite place till it starts to get too hot. Then, my favorite place will be floating in the pool.....preferably with the kids in the house, LOL. 

P.S.  As you can see by the date on the pictures, it took me over a week to finish this post after I started it. It is now warm enough to enjoy my favorite spot! One week ago it was cold, today I was wearing shorts. It's crazy!

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

"Go Hotel!"

Saturday we were out shopping for a dress for Jordan for our homeschool group's Spring Formal.  We took Jessie with us.  Although I took a stroller so she could rest some, she walked a fair amount, which is one of the reasons I took her with us. The other reason I took her is she loves to go places, be out of the house and loves the mall....because it has Chick Fil A and  the carousel.  Somehow, she forgot about the carousel.  We went to a couple of small stores first before we went to the mall.  She kept saying she wanted to go to the mall.  Go to the mall, go to the mall.  It really wasn't about the mall at all.  She kept saying she was hungry....she was NOT hungry when we started out.  She drove us crazy with constantly telling us she was hungry, she just wanted to go to Chick Fil A.  Honestly, I don't think she can distinguish between being hungry and wanting something to eat that she likes.  Jordan finally said that yesterday, something I hadn't really thought through before.  I just knew that once she got her Chick Fil A, she would be happy.  Nope.  She was briefly satisfied; it was short-lived.  She happily sat in her stroller and ate till all the nuggets were gone. 

Then, she started talking about wanting to go to a hotel.  She loves to go to a hotel; don't we all?  The only thing I can think of as to why she had this obsession....a couple months ago we had gone to Birmingham for a doctor appointment, the weather was bad and we had to stay overnight.  After her doctor appointment we had gone to the mall to shop and while we were there, my husband called us and said he would feel better if we just spent the night there, rather than driving the four hours home in the bad weather.  All three kids were with me, he encouraged me to just stay there at the Winfrey Hotel which was in the mall, so we wouldn't even have to leave the mall to go to a hotel.  I'm guessing this is what Jessie had in her mind, as to why she was so obsessed with going to a hotel after our shopping.  She kept repeating "Go hotel, brush our teeth, and go to bed.  Eat breakfast, go home."  "I'm tired, want to go hotel, go to bed."  I know she got bored with the shopping, but she was driving us NUTS with her replaying the broken record of "Go Hotel."

I'm sure if I had been feeling better, I might have done a better job of distracting her from her obsessive mission.  I started to run a fever while we were shopping, but I was determined to press on until we found THE dress. I just didn't feel well enough to let her try things on and play dress up while Jordan tried on dresses. 

I realize this post is not uplifting or encouraging.  Sometimes I just feel the need to be honest about some of the trying times.  We all have them. It's true whether our kid has Down syndrome or not.  This stubborn obsessiveness with something is an issue I have heard from other parents with DS too.  Tonight we were supposed to meet someone from the local newspaper to talk about the upcoming Miracle League season and Jessie was going to have her picture taken.  She was dressed in her ball shirt and we were almost there when we got the call that it was cancelled, and needed to be rescheduled.  She didn't like that one bit....she will probably ask me about it (when we will do it) every single day until the day it comes to pass.  Praying for patience on these days.....

I have noticed that when this type of behavior is to the extreme, a lot of the time, but not all of the time, I am able to see that there is something physically bothering her.  On Sunday, when I went to kiss her goodnight, I noticed a stinky, familiar, smell.  Her ear was draining.  She had never complained of it once and hadn't pulled or rubbed at it like she often will if it bothers her. She has reflux too and it has been flaired up and bothering her more than it had been for a while.  When it is, she tends to be a little edgy, touchy. I'm hoping that we get these couple of things feeling a little better and they she will chill out a little bit!

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Love and Sacrifice

I kept getting these flyers in the mail...We buy Gold! It was from a jewelry store we've used before.  Friday, I took a few things in and sold them.  I had been thinking about this for a while; then I just knew it was time. 

If you've read my previous posts you know I have a heart for orphans.  And, of course, especially ones who have Down syndrome or other special needs.  In many other countries, children with Down syndrome just have no chance at a good, healthy life.  Most are put in orphanages, then later moved to mental institutions by age 4 or 5.  It varies by country.  God has put this on my heart in a big way.  More and more, I'm thinking adopting ourselves isn't likely the way that we can be involved.  But, my eyes are forever opened, and my heart forever broken for those children, all children, that don't have a family to love and care for them.  I have to find ways to do what I can do.

We had found a bracelet at the beach, many years ago, that was gold and had real stones in it.  Jordan I think had found it and we had said that it could be hers, when she was older.  When I suggested to her recently that we sell it and donate to an adoption fund, she thought that was a great idea.  Just so you know, we were there a good long while that day, there weren't many people around and noone was looking for a lost bracelet or we would have returned it to its owner.  I felt sure if we had walked around asking folks if it was theirs, they would have claimed it whether it was theirs or not.

I had a couple pair of earrings that I hadn't worn in years.  I was happy to give those as well. Then, I had one more piece that I struggled over whether to sell.  My brother had taken his own life when he was just 21 years old.  He had few possessions, and had specifically wanted me to have a a beautiful herringbone gold chain that he had really treasured.  Somehow, years ago this chain had gotten tangled, and they told me at the jewelry store it couldn't be repaired.  It was really the only thing I had of my brother's.  I struggled with the decision but decided how better to honor his memory than to give someone else life.  Truly, in the country my online friend wants to adopt from, it is the difference between life and death for these children.

My brother's necklace was worth 145 dollars and the total I received was $350. I have to tell you the first thought that popped in my mind as I received the check was that amount would nearly buy the special needs stroller we need.  Also, almost the right amount for the Spanish program I need to purchase for homeschooling, or would certainly cover Jordan's dress for the spring formal.  I couldn't stop myself from having those thoughts for just a moment, but I knew God had laid it on my heart to donate this money. 

I met this online friend in such a God-way, if you know what I mean.  We both shared a love and burden for Corinna that I've blogged about before.  She has this huge heart, wants to adopt one or more children WITH special needs, and finances are the only thing slowing them down.  You can find her blog here.  Many times I have felt tugged to donate when reading blogs and felt the amount I could give was so small that it couldn't be of much help.  Several times lately I have donated just $25. hoping and knowing that it could really add up.  It was all I could give at the time.  If you're a coffee drinker you can help by ordering coffee from Just Love Coffee Roasters (they have an amazing story too) and every purchase of a bag of coffee gives them $5. for their adoption.  I ordered the African Skies, which it described as their favorite, and am enjoying a delicious cup right now! This link takes you right to their page, so that they will get credit for the sale.

I met Kelli online, but she lives just a couple of hours away and hope to meet her in person soon.  I can't wait till the time I can see her and meet her new addition/additions to their family.  I know God will bless them for their obedience; and that He will bless me for mine.  He's just good like that. 

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Jessie on American Idol

Daddy:  Jessica Hall, please step forward.

Jessie sings.....

Daddy:  Yay!!!!!!!!!

Daddy:  Jessica Hall, please step forward.  Yes, you're going to Hollywood!

Jessie:  Next week, on Tuesday?

Jessie sings again....this will be reenacted 20 times in the next hour.......<3

Mama Feeling Whiny Today......

Jessie has had diarrhea for a couple of days.  Wednesday and Thursday we stayed home together and I put off doing things that needed doing, finally, today they HAD to be done.  I had to do a quick run by at a doctor's office, go to Sam's to get prescriptions and some groceries, etc., go to Verizon to pay a bill and talk with Customer Service to decide whether to 1) make an insurance claim, paying the deductible to get a new phone or 2) whether or when I was eligible to get a new phone.  I've decided to TRY to hang in there till May but my phone is being very aggravating! 

I left Jessie at home with big brother and sister while I did all these things.  Most of the time I try to take Jessie with me when I run such errands, because it gets her out of the house a bit (she gets to talk to a million strangers while out which makes her happy and slows me down!) and Jordan and Evan can get their school work done.  One of two things happens when I leave her home with them on a school day.  EITHER, she watches entirely too much t.v. OR they don't get their school work done for entertaining her.   Either scenario leaves me feeling guilty. Even though it couldn't be helped the way things worked today, I told them they would have to finish their school work tomorrow :(  Soon as I got home from those errands, I threw things in the freezer and ran out the door again, taking Jordan to a friend's house to work on Chemistry and ACT prep, leaving Jessie home with Evan another couple hours.  The time between dropping her off and picking her back up left me with not really enough time to warrant driving all the way back to Headland, so I decided to run through a car wash, vacuum the van and get a few things at Walmart before picking Jordan back up. 

 Where the whining comes in........I debated whether I wanted to share this or not, but decided to do so.  It felt so wonderful today to do all those things without being slowed down by Jessie. Jessie doesn't have good endurance for a whole lot of walking, the walking she does is slow, and getting her in and out of the car, always a potty break or a snack, when we have errands to do it is painfully slow at times.  At Verizon she wants to look at what she wants to look at or talk to someone when I'm wanting to look at phones.  The last two trips to Verizon...when they called my name, I was taking her to the potty and lost my place in line.  When they realized I was there they called me again next, but you get what I'm sayin'.  I could never have accomplished all of what I got done today if she had been with me; I would have had to do part of the list today and finish the rest another day.  That's usually how I do things. Today I felt super productive (that always makes me feel good!) and felt guilty that I wish things weren't so hard. Maybe guilt isn't even the right word.  I felt tired of things being/seeming so hard. 

 Already, tonight I feel differently.  Tomorrow, I'll be completely back to my joyful self....but today....I felt weighted down. I have been mama to a little person for 15 years now.  Whereas Jordan and Evan were much more independent at the age Jessie is now (8), physically, in many ways with Jessie, it is still like caring for a toddler.  I still brush her teeth, wipe her bottom, wash her hair, help with getting dressed etc.  She doesn't do any of those things well enough yet to do them herself.  Today, just for today, I felt tired of having "a toddler".  I am ready for a new phase, that truly I don't think is right around the corner.  I didn't like having these feelings, even while knowing they are normal. 

While Jessie has had diarrhea, I have had to keep a towel under her wherever she sits or sleeps; she has had many accidents as she doesn't realize it in time to make it to the potty.  I have been constantly washing the clothes and towels.  Today, while I was gone, Jordan and Evan were dealing with that (not the washing but the taking care of her). What a wonderful big brother and sister they are.  When I dropped Jordan off and was debating on whether to come back home (which would have involved 1hr of driving back and forth with just 30 or 45 minutes at home before going back to get her) Evan encouraged me to just do the things I needed to do, that he and Jessie would be just fine, and that he didn't mind, it was no big deal.  He had no idea how I needed that today or what a big deal it was to me. 

It felt SO GOOD to clean out my van! That may sound crazy but the van was so dirty it was just gross.  When you have to pull up the big trash can and move it from door to door as you clean....that's a sign it was too long overdue. 

Today I couldn't help feeling aggravated at how difficult some things are right now.  I needed to have time to do alone, things that had to be done.  I worry in sharing these kinds of feelings, that someone who doesn't know me well enough will misunderstand.  I also worry that those that do know me in person, and not just online, will feel sorry for me....don't! I did for today, and that was enough.  I'm over it.  I am always thankful that Jessie is ours, our lives are immeasurably enriched and better because of her.  When I got home tonight, I kissed her all over her face and told her how much I missed her.  It was true, even though I was glad to get done things I needed to, I missed my sweet little puffalump and couldn't wait to get all her sugar and snuggle with her for a few minutes. I called her while I was at Walmart today and told her I'd found her a new swimsuit cover up and asked what color she wanted.  She loves to get phone calls, loves new, pretty things, and loves making the choices herself.  She chose purple.  Tomorrow, I can't wait to show it to her.  She'll be so excited....and that will make my day :)

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Stella: A Sweet New Addition To Our Family

For several months Evan had been pondering, thinking, trying to decide if he wanted the responsibility of a new dog or puppy.  It was understood that feeding and caring for the new dog WOULD BE his responsibility.  Accidents, etc., in the house, HIS responsibility.  He weighed the pros and cons of puppies vs. dogs but wasn't fully decided when we began our search.  We visited Animal Control and the Humane Society.  The only dog he fell in love with failed to pass their temperament test :(  Jordan and I fell in love with a beautiful lab puppy.....Evan just wasn't interested.  Still searching, we started looking online....Craig's List and Pet Finder....and found Stella.
Stella was fur and bones, very skinny.  She weighs 50 lbs, but the vet said she should weigh 70.  In the nearly two weeks we've had her, she has started to fill out so beautifully.  Her ribs and spine were painfully noticeable and bony.  She had been adopted by someone else just a few days before.  Kelly said she looked even worse before we saw her, that in the few days she'd had her, she'd filled out a little.  Kelly already had a bulldog and hoped the two dogs would be companions, but "Tater" wasn't having it so she had advertised her on Craigs List. 
When we first talked about the dogs Evan was interested in, Jay and I agreed that with certain breeds (Dobermans being one of them), that we would want to have them as a puppy to grow up with Jessie, being used to her.  When I first called about Stella, I misunderstood, and thought she was a younger dog.  She is estimated to be 2 to 3 years old. After emailing with Kelly several times, she sounded like a perfect fit for our family and decided to meet her, even though she was older than we'd  first thought we wanted. 
We loved Stella right from the start.  She is THE sweetest dog ever! She wants to be loved every minute of the day!  To be such a large dog, she is surprisingly calm.  She is loving to everyone in the family, and very tolerant of Jessie being somewhat unpredictable.  Jessie doesn't know if there are things dogs don't typically like; but Stella doesn't seem to be bothered by much of anything. At first she didn't pay any attention to the cats.......but now, if they run she will chase.  If they aren't running (or hissing at her because she has previously chased them!) she isn't concerned with them.  Boo (our other dog) has been terribly jealous, but is starting to calm down.  They have started to play together and it is HILARIOUS to watch because of the difference in their sizes, and seeing long- legged Stella playing like a puppy.  Evan is so in love with his new dog.  Getting a new dog/pet is always a bit of a gamble.  There are always things you can't know for sure.  Whew! Glad this one worked out! 

This is Jessie's handwriting from the day or so when we first got Stella.  I always try to make Jessie's handwriting (and other schoolwork) meaningful to her whenever possible :)

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Sticker No No

Jessie has liked stickers for a long time.  It hasn't been all that long since she has been able to pick up the smaller stickers.  We always have tons of stickers to use for making cards for different special occasions and just for fun.  Such a great fine motor activity, I'm happy that she is enjoying them....BUT not when they end up places like....

On the glass back door.  These have actually been there a couple of months.  It was cute and I didn't have the heart to remove them.

Newest addition: added a bunch of stickers to the laminate floor, all in a perfect straight line.

This isn't where Dora belongs!  Jessie, in the past, hasn't been able to scrape them off the floor herself.  This time she had to help remove them as I could see she's decided this is a really cute idea.  Sorry to have to spoil the fun :(

Friday, February 12, 2010


Jessie loves to help me cook.  She sometimes really likes to cook in her kitchen.  Lately, she wants to cook (play cook) in the real kitchen, with all the real utensils.  Funnels, measuring cups, pot holders, measuring spoons (translates....drag out everything in the kitchen!)......

In the past year Jessie has finally reached the level of understanding that when I ask her, "Keep it or give it away?", she has been able to help make decisions about what to get rid of when cleaning out her toys. So far we haven't made any big mistakes by relying on whatever she tells me when asked that question.  

She hasn't played with her toy kitchen much lately.  When she has kept getting out my real things, I've wondered if it was time to get rid of her toy kitchen.  So, I asked her, "Jessie, are you tired of (a phrase she uses regularly and understands!) your kitchen?  Do you want to keep it or sell it?"

She quickly and very adamantly replied, " I don't like selling!"  "Keep it!"  You could hear the little bit of fear in her voice.  Okay.  We'll wait a while, it SURE takes up a LOT of space in her room. 

Bath Time Fun


 She was pretending something about being in the "hopsital" (hospital :) 

Sunday, February 7, 2010

At the Doctor: Funny Jessie Moments

I never quite know what Jessie will do when we are in a group setting in public.  If strangers in Walmart, etc. speak to her, sometimes she doesn't speak back, sometimes it seems rude when they are being kind and making conversation.  On the other hand, she is not a respecter of privacy, she doesn't understand the "rules".  We were at the doctor's office for about three hours.  She was very well behaved, and certainly as patient as any 8 year old could be expected to be for that length of time.  From the beginning of when we first got there, every time someone else's name was called, she would say (fairly loudly), "Call my name!".  I would say, most every time, "We have to wait our turn, all these other people were here first."  Jessie: "No!" Next person called, same scenario, for most of the 10-15 people that were called before us.  She has complete understanding of the way that works, she just doesn't like waiting her turn (does anyone?).  Also, she isn't able to look around and think, ok, 5 more then my turn. Every time she thinks it might be her turn and is disappointed when it isn't.  She was thrilled when they actually called her name.

Jessie drew stick figures, labeled them with family members names, wrote some words, I helped her spell some.  That got old.  She got bored.  I realized I had dropped my phone in the car and stepped out to get it...BEFORE I GOT OUT THE DOOR, she started working the room.  I saw it as soon as I stepped out, through the glass.  She had a pretend Princess camera and went around the room taking everyone's picture.  She did this two or three times, then waited a while till more people had come in, that hadn't been there the first round, then she had to do it all again.  I am always unsure at first how people are going to react to such as that, but everyone seemed to think it was cute, most were smiling and some really got tickled with her.  One lady (an acquaintance of mine) said, "She has a way of making sick people feel better."

We drew and wrote some more, she texted her Daddy and sister.  There was an older gentleman sitting beside her.  After she'd been texting, she pointed at him and said she wanted to text him.  She knows how to go to text messaging in my phone, knows to put in the first couple letters of the name she wants, then selects the correct name and texts them.  She kept saying, "I want to find his name", pointing to the nice man we'd been talking to a little.  He was sitting there with his phone out and had texted someone while we were sitting there.  Finally, she wasn't going to give up, so I said, "She wants to text you."  He gave me a business card with his phone number on it (turns out he was a pastor :)) and I put the number in for her.  She texted back and forth with him several times.  He took a picture of her with his phone and sent it to her.  She sent him a picture of her that was saved in my phone.  Only Jessie.

Sometimes, right off the bat I am a little anxious when we get in that kind of setting, knowing she is going to get in everybody's business.  Some days it is annoying that she doesn't respect the normal boundaries of strangers.  Other days, like today, I can enjoy that difference. 

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Corinna: Answered Prayer

Seeing the words "My forever family found me" above Corinna's picture on the Reece's Rainbow website....there are no words to describe how that felt for me. Overwhelmingly thankful. Definitely what Oprah calls "the ugly cry". I am thankful for the experience of praying for her and seeing God provide.  This experience is a spiritual marker in MY life. 

I was completely brokenhearted over Corinna.  I know it was God, it wasn't me.  When I first began looking at the Reece's Rainbow website I wondered how anyone ever knew the particular child God would have them adopt.  There are so many.  I had read that people said God put a certain child on their heart or when they saw the picture they knew they were supposed to be a part of their family.  I was envious.  I am always envious when someone says they have a clear word from God.  I so desire that from Him.  I don't mean I never get it, but I desire it more than I get it.  Absolute certainty, clear direction. 

I wondered if we were supposed to adopt Corinna.  I won't know till I get to heaven if we missed out on a blessing there.  My husband didn't feel that was what we were supposed to do.  I don't know if he wasn't listening closely enough, being practical, or if that wasn't the role we were to play.  I do know that at that point I knew I had to do what I could do.  Pray.  God allowed me to feel for her very personally, painfully, in a way that I don't that often for someone I don't personally know or have a connection to.  I was asked, "Why do you keep going back to her picture and looking at it every day if there's nothing you can do?" and "Why do you do that to yourself?"  One day, I will know the details of all the inner workings of what was going on.  One day I will know the rest of the story.  For now, I know that my prayers were used for Corinna's good and God's glory.

I know some things that aren't yet common knowledge, and I'm so thankful God put me in a position to be able to know those things.  That was his gift to me.  I know that what is happening for her is supernaturally God good. I know that isn't a grammatically correct sentence, but it's what needed to be said. 

The Bible tells me that he collects the prayers of the saints....I know they have meaning and purpose and are pleasing to him.  I am thankful that this time he let me see all the dots connected...he doesn't always work that way...but I am thankful that this time he did that next time I will remember this marker, and pray, knowing it has meaning even if I don't get to see the completed picture.  It will help me hold on till the next time He knows I need what only He can give.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Update on Joshua

Wanted to update those of you who have been praying for Joshua.  He is doing so much better; this is his 2nd day off Oxygen. Thank you so much to those of you that don't even know him that prayed for him.  Now that he's perking up they're wondering how to keep him occupied!  That is a good problem to have at this point.  He has blown several veins and had to have his IV moved several times, we are praying now that that this IV (currently in this thumb!) will last till he is finished with antibiotics (for the pneumonia).

Thanks friends!

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Prayers Needed For Our Buddy, Joshua

This is a picture of Joshua, with all his babies at the hospital.  I've mentioned Joshua here several times before.  He and Jessie were born just three weeks apart, Jessie first.  Tomorrow will be a week that Joshua has been in the hospital. He has asthma, so having the flu has made him a very, very, sick little boy.  He was flown by helicopter to Children's Hospital in Birmingham on Monday, spent several days in ICU, then was doing a little better and moved to a Pulmonary Care Floor. Now he is back in a special care or ICU again.  Please pray for our little buddy.  From the beginning, they were having diffculty stabilizing his oxygen levels, and he now has pneumonia as well.  He has a big brother and sister at home with grandparents as both his parents are at the hospital with him....four hours away.  They all need our prayers.

I apologize for the picture quality, I couldn't quickly get a picture and "borrowed" one from his dad's facebook.  When they were just babies and toddlers we always talked about Jessie and Joshua getting married one day.  We dreamed about how they could have their own place, very near both sets of parents! Jessie was too young to hear and understand any of that at the time.  When they were toddlers, their two big sisters dressed them up and performed wedding ceremonies (several times!) where they were pronounced husband and wife.  I truly don't think Jessie remembers any of that; they were so young, but every since she watched the Duggar wedding on tv, then there was a wedding in our family recently, she tells us she's going to marry Joshua, in a white dress, in a church, with flowers.  They have been friends from birth, hug on 1st base in baseball, and fight like siblings....who knows.

Please pray for Joshua and his family.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

First Day of Coop

Today was the first day of the new coop semester.  My kids LIVE for it, I try to survive it! Truly, there are many things I love about it too.  But, it makes  for a   l   o   n   g   day on Tuesday, and once the kids get to Jordan's and Evan's grades, it is difficult to get their schoolwork done in a four day week.

Typical Coop Day: Well, it begins EARLIER than we like to start our days around here.  We have always homeschooled and are spoiled by not having to rise early and be dressed and out of the house early.  We left our house at 8:00 and have a 25 minute drive to the church that is our homeschool umbrella.  Jordan drives us now :)  I wake Jessie sitting over her with a cup of koolaid and her Prevacid, so she can have that on an empty stomach 30 minutes before eating anything. I try to let her sleep as long as possible, since it is earlier than usual for her, but have figured out if I try to save time by having her eat on the way to save time, she usually won't, so I may have to go back to getting her up a little earlier. I digress, easily sidetracked....

This semester I signed Jessie up for four classes, 8:30-12:30. I plan to try four classes, but if it is too much, we will drop the last one.  The 8:30 class,  I thought I signed up for a class about holidays, but today's class was a story, craft, and coloring.  If I had realized it would be a story type class I might have signed up at 9:30 for playdoh instead of story time. 9:30:  Story time, read stories, sang couple songs and had a snack. 10:30 Song and Dance. Jessie LOVED this.  The teacher owns a dance studio, so she's had a lot of experience with little people.  They did a little pre-ballet (what she called it!) there was no pressure to be perfect, just fun, then did other songs that had motions and movements.  We're Going On A Bear Hunt, If You're Happy And You Know It. For me it all ran together...she loved it. 11:30 was supposed to be a Bible Class, but the teacher didn't show (!!) and helpers (including me) took the kids to an indoor soft play inside the church.  Each of the classes I signed Jessie up for are geared for preschoolers, up to age 5. I have sometimes signed her up for a couple of elementary classes, it really just depends on what is offered.

Up till now, I have attended every coop class with Jessie.  Every parent is required to help 1 hour of their child's coop, not necessarily in their class. I have chosen to stay with Jessie for every class.  When she was younger I just didn't feel comfortable leaving her because she couldn't communicate well enough.  Now, she talks a lot, and although not every word is understandable, I don't worry that she can't express her needs and wants.  There's no mistaking those!!  Also, I have always seen myself as the mediator between Jessie and other children, helping her to be understood.  Finally, I feel that more adults and children know her, so that maybe I can take the tiniest step back. A tiny one.  Not much, just a little.  I will still take her to each class and hope to stay only for PART of each class, except for the one hour I am the committed helper.  We will see :)

Evan took Communications 101, Composition, Game Time and Game of Life.  Jordan took Communications 101, Composition (Essays), Biology Lab (Dissection).  They LOVE coop and look forward to it so much between semesters.  Having the entire day out of the house on Tuesday causes them to have to work into the summer some, and it is worth it to them.  I love that they are both taking writing with a teacher that loves it, it is an area that I really can't give them what she can, so I am thankful they are getting this opportunity.  I am so happy too that Jordan is getting to do Biology lab with a mom that has that background and loves science.  They did microscope last semester, dissection this time.  Jordan was very happy that she was paired with a boy who didn't mind being the one to touch "all the slimy dead stuff without even wearing gloves"!  In the afternoon Jordan and Evan ate lunch with their FLOW (Future Leaders Of The Wiregrass) group, had a devotion and set out for the places they would volunteer for a couple of hours.  Evan was writing letters as part of a pen pal program.  Jordan went to a place that ministers to a variety of people, some are homeless, some are recovering from some type of addiction.  They weren't working directly with those people today, but Jordan has a heart for both of those groups of people.  Mama Tina, that runs the place, made an impression on Jordan and she wants us see how we might volunteer there again later. 

Since Jordan and Evan were having lunch with FLOW, it was just me and Jessie together for lunch and she got to choose where we would go. Not surprisingly, she chose Things N Wings, one of our families favorite places.  After lunch, Jessie and I came home to chill for about an hour 15 minutes, then headed back to pick up Jordan and Evan.  We made a quick trip to a Christian store to find Jordan a track, as she is scheduled to sing Sunday at church.  Raced to Jessie's dance class, then Winn Dixie, and finally, home at about 7:00 p.m.

At lunch Jessie made my day.  I told her I enjoyed having lunch with her by herself, just the two of us.  I asked her if she liked it.  She said, "Yes, it's a bomb".  My sassy girl meant having lunch with me was THE BOMB.  I wasn't 100% certain that was what she meant until at bedtime she told me french fries were a bomb.  My sweet, sassy girl.