Thursday, December 25, 2008

Merry Christmas!

"Mom, Santa eat it!"

"What did Santa eat, Emma?"

"The cookies!"

These are the words that greeted us this morning. We had heard Emma get up and tiptoe downstairs to look for presents, as she has for the last few mornings. No disappointment this morning!

Last night, we hung the stockings and left Santa his cookies and milk, and a couple of carrots for the reindeer. Emma insisted on going to bed right away - we had told her that Santa only comes when kids are asleep, and she took that to heart.

Once we established that Santa had eaten his cookies, Emma wasted no time opening her presents.

My little Hannah Montana fan was thrilled to get a CD - something tells me we'll be hearing this one over and over and over...

Emma wanted only two things from Santa this year. In her words, "a haircut chair and a Jenny doll." We had seen these at Target, and it's all she could talk about over the last few weeks. Santa didn't let her down!

I see hours of fun ahead with these!

Emma did have some help opening her gifts...

Emma keeps going back to the empty plate and glass that Santa left behind. She is simply awestruck that Santa was HERE and ate the cookies and milk that we left him! "Mom, there's crumbs! Santa eat it all!"

The rest of the day will be pretty relaxed...our extended family celebration has been rescheduled for Saturday, thanks to several more inches of snow. We had about 3 inches overnight and it's still snowing! The lights have been flickering, and we're praying we don't lose power.

We hope your day is filled with family time, good food, and happy smiles. Merry Christmas!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

An awesome stuck-in-the-house craft!

So Emma and I are still at home - a plowing/sanding truck came by around 6:30 this morning and promptly got stuck on our hill. They had to call another truck in to help guide the first one as it came down backwards. They were finally able to get the hill plowed and sanded, and Chad headed to work for a meeting. He said it was pretty nasty out there, so I decided to stay put.

We've done a little bit of everything today. We made cookies, we cut lots of shapes out of paper and glued them to construction paper, we played with playdough, we worked on handwriting, we watched more Hannah Montana than any human being should be subjected to. I had to pull out the big guns.

I saw a version of this on the Food Network - the Neelys made Christmas ornaments this way. They took metal cookie cutters, sprayed them with cooking spray, put them on parchment paper on a cookie sheet, then put some hard candies into the cookie cutters. You put them in the oven until the candy melts, then pop them out of the cookie cutters after they cool. They were really cute, so I picked up a bunch of bags of Lifesavers so we could do it ourselves.

Our first attempt was an abysmal failure. They broke into hundreds of little pieces when we tried to get them out of the cookie cutters. I had to get creative, so I pulled out my silicone cupcake pan.

Emma helped me put Lifesavers into each little well, and I stuck them in the oven (350 for about 8-10 minutes). We let them cool, and VOILA!

Rainbow candy perfection!

Monday, December 22, 2008

We're done with the winter wonderland.

It can go away now.

It was 3 degrees here on Saturday morning. I was reminded of our days back in Flagstaff, AZ...when we had to haul water and firewood in temperatures that low. That's one of the reasons we don't live in Flagstaff anymore.

We had another 4 inches of snow on Saturday night, and about 3 inches last night. We are STUCK at the bottom of our hill because we don't have four-wheel-drive, and when our brilliant road crew finally plowed and sanded, they did it late yesterday afternoon. Right before the snow started. Guess how long it took for that sand to disappear? We haven't seen the road crew since.

I kicked Emma out onto the deck for a little independent play time. She lasted about 10 minutes before she was at the door begging for hot chocolate and marshmallows. The girl knows what's important in life!

Friday, December 19, 2008

It's a winter wonderland!

We don't get much snow here in Western Washington, but it's sure felt like a good old-fashioned East Coast winter lately! It's almost like being back in Philly! We've had about 10" over the last week, with some clear and cold weather in between storms. We're expecting another 4 - 6" on Saturday night, and then hopefully it will start to warm up. I never thought I'd be wishing for the rain to come back!

Emma, of course, loves the snow. She would stay out there until her little fingers and toes froze off, and getting her to come back in is quite the challenge.

This is the hill that leads directly to our house. Kids use this hill for sledding (yes, on the street!) and I watch nervously out the window every time it snows. Amazingly enough, this time we've only had one car end up stuck in our driveway (he slid after trying to avoid the sledders and crashed into the sign post), and only one sledder has gone into our garage door. For the record, the police don't care that the kids are sledding on the street, and a fair number of kids have parents who are not only supervising, they're participating. We wish they'd stop, but we seem to be the only ones who are concerned.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Thinking of Annette...

One year ago today, my friend Annette passed away from synovial sarcoma. She was a fellow traveler on the journey of raising a child with Down syndrome, and did so much for so many. She was a wonderful friend, and I miss her.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Nothing says Christmas like...

Children singing Christmas carols...

and kittens in Christmas trees.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Advocating for others

I've recently been asked to help a couple of families that are having trouble getting appropriate supports and services for their preschoolers. I've been studying special ed law since Emma was about six months old (I've done oodles of trainings, read books, gone to conferences), have (so far) successfully advocated for her, and have been looking for ways to use the knowledge I have for children who aren't mine. My name somehow gets around because of the volunteer work I've done, and even though I've done some coaching over the phone, I haven't actually taken on actual cases until now.

One of the moms I talked to was frantic. I won't give identifying details, but her preschooler was suspended for behavior. Yes, you read that right. A preschooler. Suspended. For behavior.

We talked for over an hour, and she told me an IEP meeting had been scheduled for this week. I offered to go along to the meeting, but told her I would need to review all the previous IEPs, evaluations, and other communication in order to attend as her child's advocate. I offered to pick everything up, and make the copies myself. She told me she would get the paperwork together and call me the next day.

That was a week ago, and I've heard nothing. The IEP meeting is tomorrow. I know she has my phone number, because she called me back the first day we talked to confirm the date and time of the meeting. I am so frustrated, because I know I could make a difference for this child, but I won't go to an IEP meeting without all the facts! I also refuse to chase someone to get what I need - not only am I too busy for that, but since I am an unpaid volunteer, I need people to show some commitment and meet me halfway.

Am I being unreasonable? Or am I setting appropriate boundaries? What would you do?


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