Sunday, February 15, 2009

Pike Place Market

One of the joys of living so close to Seattle (we're about 45 minutes away) is being able to go to Pike Place Market. Yesterday, we were trying to decide what to do for the day, and Chad suggested heading down there, since the last time we'd gone was last May. We asked Emma what she wanted to do, and she declared, "Seattle!" When I asked if she wanted to go to the market, she shouted, "Yes!" and ran off to her room.

I heard her digging around in her toys up there, and just about the time my curiosity was getting the better of me, she came back down carrying this:

She got this little mermaid doll from a vendor at Pike Place Market almost a year ago. I couldn't believe that she remembered! Apparently her mermaid needed some friends, so I told her we'd try to find the same vendor.

It was a great day - yummy food, lots of cool vendors, street musicians, and we even had a chance encounter with another family with an adorable 4-year-old boy with Down syndrome!

When we got to one part of the market, Emma ran ahead and was looking around. I asked her what she was looking for, and she said, "Where are the dolls?" We were in the spot where the vendor had been last year! Again, I was amazed at Emma's memory. Unfortunately, the vendor wasn't there, so we wandered around until we found her. Emma got some friends for her mermaid, and that's what made the day a real success for her.

It was a real lesson for me. I'm always underestimating what Emma can remember. We work so hard helping her remember and learn what are, to many of us, little things - especially anything to do with numbers. I forget that learning needs to not only be concrete for Emma, it needs to be relevant. If math made an impression on Emma like Pike Place Market and a doll, she'd probably be doing calculus by now! There has to be a way to make those connections for her. If I find it, I'll share it.

A little more kitten love

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Miss Emma goes to Olympia

I've finally got the time to share a little more information and some pictures from our trip to our state capitol. Last week was a long and busy week, and I'm very happy to have fewer obligations this week. I need the break!

We live about 2 hours from Olympia, and we needed to sign in at the committee hearing at 9:30am, so we were up and out the door by 6:45am. Emma is a fantastic road tripper, and was really excited to go - I had been showing her some video of other committee hearings, so she knew what we were going to do.

The trip was uneventful, and by 9:15 we had found a parking spot and were walking over to the capitol. I gave Emma her camera, and here are some of the pictures she shot.

This is the building where we testified.

Once we signed in, we got to sit and wait. Emma was okay with this, since I'd brought our Zune and she could watch a movie. I was okay with this, too, because it gave me a chance to chat with some other folks who were there, including Cecile Lindquist and Cassie Johnston from the WEECARE Coalition. They were there to testify as well, and helped me feel a bit less nervous.

We were extremely lucky, because the bill we were testifying about was first on the schedule, and after Cecile and Cassie spoke, we were called up. If you watch the video below, you can probably hear my knees knocking because I was so nervous, but Emma handled it like a pro.

The bill we were testifying about is Senate Bill 5373. It's called the Infant Toddler Equity Act, and is designed to create parity in funding for birth-to-three services across all the counties in Washington state. You can find more information here.

I said my piece, the other mom from our county spoke, and that was it! Over in a flash, but I felt like the committee was actually listening to what we had to say - the chair even invited Emma to say hello, but my girl chose that moment to get a case of the shys and pulled her dress up over her face. Oh well, can't have everything perfect!

Here's Emma in the hall when we were done. I bought her outfit especially for this day - it's from Gymboree's tulip line. For those of you who aren't familiar with the significance of tulips in the Down syndrome world, there's an essay called "Welcome to Holland" that most parents are given soon after their child is born. It was written by Emily Perl Kingsley, a writer for the show Sesame Street, and mother of a son with Down syndrome. It's a beautiful piece, and you can read it here.

We posed for a picture in front of the capitol building, of course.

We went into the building, and stood under the big dome. Emma said, "Mom, it's beautiful!" I had to agree.

Last but not least, we paid a visit to our Senator's office - Senator Steve Hobbs. He was in a committee meeting, but his legislative aide was wonderful. Thanks for the tour, Kristy!

The whole experience was pretty amazing, and I highly recommend it to everyone. There's something empowering about feeling you're actually participating in the legislative process. When I spoke, these senators listened. Whether things go my way or not, I was able to have my say at that level.

As we were walking back to our car, I told Emma that one day, she will be a self-advocate. She won't need me to speak up for her, she'll be able to do it herself. I told her that one day, we will go to a hearing like this, and she'll be the one doing the talking. She looked up at me and said, in an almost reverent voice, "Emma too?" When I told her, yes, Emma could testify, too, she had just one word to say.


I couldn't have said it better myself.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Changing the Senate committee meeting at a time!

Emma and I went to our state capitol, Olympia, today. We testified before a Senate committee regarding and Early Intervention bill. I'll do a longer post tomorrow, but I just found out that the video of the hearing is up, so I'm going to post it here. If you want to learn about the bill (Senate Bill 5373), watch from the beginning. If you just want to see us, go to 17:21.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Life with Emma

I'm always talking about how Emma cracks me up every single day. She loves to put on little performances, dancing and singing, and just plain being silly. I managed to catch one on video yesterday, and thought everyone would like to see how hilarious this girl is for themselves. Check out her robot dance at the beginning - it's a classic!

Kitten love

It's been a while since I posted a picture of George and Lucy. This one includes old man Simon, who turns 18 next month. How cute are they?

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Much better!

Things are going much better with the ears. We found the ultimate motivator - she spotted Hannah Montana earrings at the store, and I explained that if we clean her ears twice a day, EVERY day, she can get those earrings and wear them. Last night, she told me she needs to lose another tooth so she has money to buy Hannah Montana earrings. Is this kid hilarious or what?

A big thank-you goes to Dr. Renee, the world's GREATEST vet, who offered to let us have some lidocaine to help Emma's ears feel better (with doctor approval, of course). We didn't end up needing it, but it just warms my heart to know how much Renee cares about our girl (and all our furry kids, as well). If you want a really great read, check out her blog here

Yesterday, we had a kindergarten field trip to the local children's museum. Not only did Emma have a wonderful time, we found some terrific career options for her.

She could be a vet, like her beloved Dr. Renee...

A chef...

A bus driver...

A farmer...

A pilot...


Monday, January 19, 2009

I'm know I'm not the only one!

Every time I think of tomorrow's inauguration, a little chill goes up my spine. I get a little teary-eyed. I can't help it - back when Barack Obama won the election and made his acceptance speech, I told my husband, "I think I'm in love" and I still feel that way (for the record, his response was "I think I am, too").

The road ahead is going to be hard for most of us, but for a little while tomorrow, we can put those worries aside and celebrate this historic event. I can't wait.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

It's not going so well.

Emma is terrified of letting us touch her ears, and won't touch them herself. She knew before we pierced her that we would have to clean them and turn them, but we had to hold her down to clean them last night and this morning. I let her watch a YouTube video of a girl cleaning her earrings, and she was excited to be a big girl, but then she screamed and cried when we actually went in the bathroom to do it.

If anyone out there has suggestions, I'd love to hear them. I hate to take the earrings out, because I know she'll regret it and want them back. She's just built it into a scary thing in her head. We work so hard with her to help her get over other fears, and I don't want to just give up without trying to help her get comfortable with this.

We're going to keep at it for at least a few days - we're going to Grandma and Grandpa's tomorrow, and maybe she'll let Nurse Grandma help out. Wish us luck!

Friday, January 16, 2009

They grow up way too fast...

For the last month or so, Emma has been begging us to get her ears pierced. She's asked before, but when we dropped the subject, she'd forget about it. Not so this time. She kept asking, so I started looking into it. I quickly decided I didn't want to take her to the mall - I'm just not convinced that the guns they use are sanitary, since they can't be completely disinfected. I looked into taking her to a local piercing studio/tattoo parlor, but they wanted $50. For ears! And you have to pay more for the studs you want!

I kept looking...and Emma kept asking...and I finally found a product that is sold to doctors for piercing. It's a pre-loaded, one-time use apparatus that comes in a sterile package. They had smaller, pediatric-size studs, which were perfect for Emma's tiny little lobes. And the studs were surgical stainless steel, another important thing, since it minimizes the chance of reacting to the metal. If you are interested, you can read more about it here

Before I ordered the kit, I had Emma take a look and asked her again if she was sure she wanted her ears pierced. "Yes!" So I placed my order, and Emma waited impatiently for four whole days. The kit came last night, and I showed her the piercers and had her watch the video on the website. Asked again if she was sure. "Yes!" Then we went to YouTube and watched a few videos of little girls getting their ears pierced. Asked again if she was sure. "Yes, yes, yes!" And she ran off to pretend to pierce the ears of all her stuffed animals and dolls.

After school today, we went over to my best friend Denise's house, and got to work. See how grown-up Miss Emma looks!

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

If it's Wednesday, it must be pinkeye...

How do you know Emma's been back to school for two days? It's easy - the crusty, weepy, bloodshot eye is a dead giveaway.

We're off to the pediatrician this morning, hoping she doesn't pick up something worse while we're there, and thankful the snow is gone so we can actually get there!

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Happy New Year!

We indulged in an old family tradition last night: fondue! Fondue was our New Year's Eve meal of choice when I was a kid (not sure how that started - I need to ask my mom about it). Back then, we did a hot oil fondue, dipping pieces of meat and veggies into the oil to cook them. These days, Chad and I do a cheese fondue. Could there be anything better than gooey, melting cheese, with wonderful bits of bread, steamed potatoes, and other veggies to dip? Emma thought it was pretty cool, and we had a lot of fun.

Emma went to bed at her usual time, and we (old folks that we are) crawled into bed around 10:00. The fireworks in the neighborhood got so loud around 10:30 that Emma joined us in bed, and we all snuggled in the new year together. It sounds much more idyllic than it was - Emma was in and out of sleep, kicking us in the kidneys. Our dog was terrified of the fireworks and was cowering in any cave-like space she could find. The fireworks themselves were extremely loud and went on for hours. Eventually Chad went into the guest room, because Emma wouldn't go back to her bed and there just wasn't enough room for the three of us. So, Emma slept well, Chad is STILL asleep in the guest room, and I'm exhausted. Sounds like a normal day to me!

Happy New Year to all my friends out there! I hope 2009 brings you everything you're hoping for.


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