Nov. 13. Books
Books would easily have fallen on any list of things I am thankful for at any point in my life. But I have a whole new appreciation for them now. My "me" time, is very, very limited. I cannot remember the last time I was able to watch a whole movie from start to finish in one sitting. I may sit down to a television show a few nights a week, but there is very little left on tv that I am willing to spend my precious free time watching. The bulk of my entertainment falls to books. They work perfectly for me, because they are meant to be read a little at a time, not all in one sitting, as a movie is intended to be viewed. I can read a few pages here and a few there, and still feel like I have gotten the whole experience in the end. Granted, I do not read nearly as many books these days as I once did (usually takes me an average of 3 weeks to get through one, used to read at least one a week). And, by the way, keep those Kindle readers and e-books away from me. I want to hold a book in my hand and turn the pages and smell that dusty old paper smell...
Nov. 14. CADES
Just a few blocks from my house is a school for special needs people called "Children and Adult Disability and Educational Services" or CADES. However, it is not the school that I am thankful for, as I don't know too much about it at this point. It is the playground. An all-access playground designed for typical and special needs children alike, and open to the community. Wonderful play equipment + total fence enclosure + padded faux surface = countless hours of playtime with friends. We have been going to CADES to play since Elyse was a baby. Every time we go, we see lots of friends from the community, from school, from storytime at the library, from classes we take, everyone is there. We have had picnics there, birthday parties there, and filled many a free hour. And another bonus: Elyse and her friends have been sharing this playground with the differently-abled students of the school for their entire lives, so that when Anabelle joined our happy circle, she was not a new phenomenon, and all of our little friends were so much better prepared to take her in stride. I've heard so many stories from my special needs friends about coming into contact with a kid who was afraid of their child or rude towards their child. We have really faced none of that so far, thanks in a large part to this wonderful facility right here in our neighborhood.
First ride in the adaptive swing
Hanging with friends
Anabelle hanging with one of her besties, Mia, during a pizza party picnic one warm spring evening
Nov. 15. Naps
This was the year in which Elyse gave up her afternoon nap. I held onto it with the skin of my teeth for as long as I could! I finally had to admit defeat. And while it does open up the afternoon for activities, and keeps us from being tied down to a schedule, it is not Elyse's naps that I am the most thankful for. It is MINE! Few and far between, these days, nothing refreshes me more than getting to crash in the middle of the day. I do not sleep well at night, but for some reason, always sleep very well during the day. Anytime I start feeling myself getting a little overly emotional, I know it's time to work another nap into the schedule!
Nov. 16. Stonehenge
Ever wish you could just get away from it all? Well, I actually can! Thanks to a property in Upstate New York that my parents purchased a few years ago named "Stonehenge." A totally inappropriate name, as there are no huge rock formations, or even any boulders, really, but the place came with the name. Not completely isolated, as there is a town about a ten minute drive (half an hour to the nearest hospital, so not un-doable for Anabelle), but far enough back in the woods to give the impression of total isolation, if that's what you are going for. Enough room for a whole gaggle of friends (or family, as we discovered when we held a family reunion there a few years back). No cable, just a tv for watching DVDs on. There was no internet originally, but that got to be a little TOO much isolation, so there is now crappy dial-up. Lots of fresh air and wild turkeys!
Anabelle's first trip to Stonehenge
A beautiful view of the river that borders one side of the property
Family game night in the main house
Stonehenge goes Munchkinville
View of the original main house
Nov. 17. Elyse-isms
Kids say the darndest things! If there is one thing that has kept the humor in our lives, it is Elyse Mireia. Yes, sometimes she makes you want to scream and tear at your hair, but her little mind is so unique. I love watching the way she processes and internalizes the information she gleans from her world. And when she talks (as she is doing most of the time), it is just AMAZING the things that come out of her mouth! Some of my favorite Elyse-isms:
Looking up at the starry sky: "Wow, it's like space!"
Elyse has a boy in her class named Caleb. She calls him "K-Love." Also, a girl in her class named Audrey. Elyse calls her "Laundry."
Elyse was diapering one of her dollies, and when she picked it up, the diaper fell to the floor. She looks at the diaper on the floor and goes, "Seriously?"
Elyse calls her Scooby-Doo fruit snacks, "Scooby-doobies"
When asked by her teacher how the pilgrims came to America, Elyse responds: "On Cauliflower!"
Brian told Elyse to put away one of her dolls that was sitting out. She told him she couldn't because that doll was the night nurse, she needs to watch the other ones. She promised she would just sit there quietly and do her paperwork
Brian asks Elyse to check on Anabelle, so she goes in the other room and yells back "She's dozing!", followed half a second later by, "Oops, I mean, now she's awake. Sorry"
Elyse: "I'm saving all my love for my family. But not, like, robbers and stuff."
I was talking with Elyse about how babies cry a lot and said, "Except your baby, she never cries. She's such a good girl." Elyse says, "Yeah, and she's super brave."
We were behind a truck that had an American flag bumper sticker. Elyse decided that must mean they're hauling American cheese
Elyse thinks "Fur Elise" was written for her, because her name is Elyse and she's four
Elyse's favorite show is "Wipeout." She calls it "Wifeout"
On the way to Elyse's 4 year check-up, the Rolling Stones, "You Can't Always Get What You Want" is playing on the radio. Elyse goes, "Yup, that guy really knows what he's talking about!"
Elyse: "Daddy, you're super strong, right?" Daddy: "Sure." E: "Strong enough to lift up a car?" D: "No, not quite that strong." E: "So you're not as strong as the Hulk." D: "No." E (in a disappointed voice): "Oh."
When Brian told Elyse that a certain book had been mine when I was a kid, her response was, "Oh, so it's SUPER old!"
Elyse asked me one day when her sissy was going to walk. I said to her, "Well, you know that your sissy is a little different from some of the other babies you know, right?" She gets a confused look on her face and says, "No she isn't."
If I were going to pinpoint ONE thing that was really helping us keep it real, it would have to be Elyse
Nov. 18. Lambie
There are very few traditional toys that Anabelle responds to. She has central visual impairment, and can really only see light and shadows. She does not reach for things or grasp things. Her hearing is great, though, so most of the toys she enjoys the most have some sort of musical or auditory component. Lambie is one such toy. He is the actually the Cloud B Sleep Sheep, and he plays a heartbeat, waves, rain and whales. Anabelle is partial to the whales. By playing Lambie's whale sounds every time we put her in her crib to nap, we have been able to accomplish something that nothing else allowed us to do: sleep train a profoundly impaired child. Anabelle knows when we settle her into her boppy pillow and place Lambie by her head, it is time to take a sleepy-nap (she may not always agree, but you can see her pause and think about it before deciding if she is going to comply!). Lambie has also been successful in calming increased agitation. Highly recommended for all newborns, and older children with the cognitive awareness of a newborn!
One last week of thankfulness, coming soon!