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!