Monday, August 27, 2007

Josiah's First Day of Kindergarten

Well, it's official, Josiah is a kindergartner. We got to school early and I stood around with the other parents while Josiah played with a friend he knows from preschool. I took pictures until the camera battery died. After a few minutes the bell rang, startling all of us a bit. (I'd forgotten about school bells and Josiah has never heard one before.) The kids wandered into two lines, backpacks bumping each other, while the teacher made sure everyone was there and checked how they would be getting home. Then she said, "Okay kids. Smile big, wave to your parents and say 'Kindergarten is great!'" And off they went. A few kids sniffled quietly, but not Josiah. He smiled, waved, said "Kindergarten is great!" and walked into the school without glancing back.

Two and a half hours later I returned to school to pick him up. The kids were playing outside for recess when I arrived. Josiah saw me and waved, but listened very well when the teacher told everyone to line up and go back inside. He chatted cheerfully with a teacher's helper as filed in the door. When he was released a few minutes later I asked him how it went and he said, "It was great!"

Al's mom was waiting for Josiah in the driveway when we got home. Since I had to go back to work I pulled up to the curb and dropped Josiah off. He smiled and waved then looked at his Ama (Grandma) and said, "It's just like a bus!"

I'm very happy that Josiah enjoyed his first day of kindergarten. I hope things continue to go well. My prayers for Josiah these days center around the friendships and character he will form at school. I pray that he will make good friends, that he will be a good influence on others, that he will not be bullied and that he will not be a bully himself. I have a feeling that I will be praying the same thing for the next 13 years or so.

Third Down Syndrome Carnival

The Third Down Syndrome Carnival is up. This week's carnival includes my post on Psalm 139.

Friday, August 24, 2007

Breaking Josiah's Heart

Yesterday I took away Josiah's toy lightsaber. He was hitting things (including me) and when he refused to stop I took it away and put it on top of a high bookshelf. A few minutes later we had the following conversation:

Josiah (looking very sad): Mommy, you made me sad. You broke my heart.

Me: I did?

Josiah (drawing a heart in the air): Yes, my heart that is shaped like this. You broke it.

Me: How did I break your heart?

Josiah: You took my lightsaber away... (dramatic eyes, quivering lip)... If you give it back, my heart will be fixed.

Ellen: You can play with it tomorrow.

Josiah (on the verge of tears): If I have to wait until tomorrow my heart will be broken forever!
At this point I had to try very hard to hide my giggles. He seems to have the guilt trip thing down. When I refused to relent he resorted to threatening me with a ghost, vampire bats and a sheep dog. A sheep dog?! Where does he come up with this stuff?

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Ready for Kindergarten?

I officially registered Josiah for Kindergarten on Tuesday evening. The experience was completely ordinary and overwhelming at the same time. When I arrived their was a five-year old standing with his arm in blocking the entry. I pretended to poke him and said, "beep." He smiled and let me through. Then I stood in brief line to find out which bus route we are on. The information they provided tells me where the bus stop is, but it doesn't indicate what time they pick up for the pm kindergarten class. Oh well. I think we're going to drive him to and from school anyway.

Next I handed in our fees and general forms. Then I handed in our medical forms. Then I signed up for PTA and spent a few minutes talking with a friend about what to expect. I stopped at the other five tables with information about the SMART$ program, fundraisers, hot lunch, and a bunch of other stuff. At the end of the line of tables was a person who pointed to the twenty or so posters where I could sign up to volunteer for various events. Yikes! I may want to help out eventually, but after the brief time of registering I was feeling a little overwhelmed. I must have looked a little overwhelmed too, because people kept asking if I was a "new mom." I came home with a handful of handouts, instructions and a name tag for Josiah to where the first week.

I had to talk with my PTA friend to figure out what to expect the first day. I was thinking the parents might get to go inside, see the room again and then say good-bye on the first day, but apparently not. We get to park in the bus lane and wait outside with our kids. Then the teacher will come out and help the kids line up and go inside. And me? I guess I just leave. Gulp. And that's just dropping him off. When we pick him up we have to park in the circle drive instead of the bus lane. What?! Why the change? And where exactly is the circle drive? You can't see it from the street... And which door do I wait near?

Why is this so scary to me? I'm not sure. Josiah has attended preschool and other park district activities, so I'm used to him being away for a couple of hours. But at those events I always walked Josiah inside to class and picked him up at the exact same spot. But an outside door versus an inside door isn't all that different. I think part of it just that my memories of school are mixed. I loved the academic part of school, but I remember being picked on too. Will Josiah enjoy school? Will he make good friends? Will he get along with other kids? Will he get along with his teacher? Will she appreciate what an amazing kid he is? Will she understand his goofiness or will it get him in trouble?

So for whatever reason, I am feeling pretty nervous about kindergarten. I'm trying not to let Josiah see how nervous I feel because I want him to excited about school. I think he might really like it. I just kind-of wish I could go with him. But I guess that is part of growing up. He needs to do more stuff on his own and I need to learn how to let go of him a little bit at a time so he has room to grow and mature. But man, if I feel like this with Josiah, I'll probably be a basket-case when Elijah starts school!

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Down Syndrome Carnival

Leticia at Cause of Our Joy is hosting a Down Syndrome Carnival. One of my early posts, Elijah's Gift, is included this week. The Down Syndrome Carnival is a weekly collection of stories and blog posts from families who have children with Down Syndrome. Stop by if you are interested in learning more about Down Syndrome or if you would like to read stories from other families.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Josiah's Song

I love to sing and and often make up silly little songs as I go about the day. Josiah has picked up on this and will also make up songs from time to time. This is what he sang for me last night (I wish I could have video-taped it because its even funnier when you hear the tune...)

I love you
You love me
Everybody loves each other...
Except bad guys
This is the truth, this is the truth, this is the truth!

Love each other
Don't eat bugs
Don't eat anything alive...

He never really finished the song. I think I distracted him when I shot out of my chair to find a pen and paper. This still makes me chuckle.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Washing Woes

Our washing machine died this week. (A moment of silence, please).

This past Tuesday I went to transfer laundry from the washer to the drier and found the washing machine sitting dormant. Not "all done" dormant, but "not even started" dormant. The towels and t-shirts sat in murky, still water. Uh oh. I thought maybe there was a pause in the cycle and went back to cleaning the kitchen. When I returned half an hour later the machine still sat dormant, the towels and t-shirts occupying the same positions in the still water. I checked the cycle. "Wash." I turned the machine off then on again a few times. I tried moving the dial to the rinse cycle. I unplugged the machine, removed some of the towels, swished things around a bit and turned it back on. All of my attempts to revive the machine were unsuccessful. I finally called Al at work with the bad news, put the wet laundry into the utility sink and then scooped out the full basin of water with a plastic cup.

That evening I came home from work more tired than usual and fighting a headache. I wasn't looking forward to hanging out in a laundromat. So when Al said he would wash the laundry in the bathtub, I was both amused and relieved. After supper I got ready to take Elijah to the supermarket with me while Al and Josiah went downstairs to wash the laundry. This is what I found when I came downstairs.

I think we've used the whirlpool jets in our downstairs bathtub maybe twice in the three years we've lived in our house, but Al had the bright idea to use them to help wash the laundry! Josiah loved it. He was jumping up and down, squealing with delight. Elijah really wanted to help too, but he has a tendency to topple into the bathtub head first. I took a few quick pictures and then left for the store with Elijah. By the time we came home Al and Josiah were putting the washed laundry into the drier. They were both dripping wet, a little worn out and very proud of themselves.

Fortunately, I finished most of this week's laundry before the washing machine died and the new one will be delivered on my usual laundry day next week. As much fun as Al and Josiah had doing laundry in the tub, I don't think they're eager to try this again anytime soon.

Monday, August 13, 2007


Elijah's physical therapist wants Elijah to learn how to jump. During PT sessions she has him stand on a short step and helps him "jump" to the floor. He loves it and asks for more when she stops. He has started imitating us a lot recently, so during our last PT session I stood in front of Elijah while holding his hands and showed him to to jump. I bent my knees, waited for him to do the same, and said "1, 2, 3... Jump!" I jumped and Elijah tried to imitate by straightening his legs quickly.

Yesterday I was playing with Elijah and he started to "jump" by himself. His feet still don't leave the floor, but he bends his knees, smiles and then stands up straight very fast while raising his little arms over his head. "Yay Elijah" I rejoiced with him. Then I said, "Jump!" He did again, said "ump!" and then signed "jump" too! It was wonderful! He's been imitating speech more often, but this is one of his first "clear" words ("clear" meaning I know that he meant to say it and that he knew what he was saying). I am so proud of him!

Monday, August 06, 2007

Cute Kid Stuff

Here are some cute things the kids have said and done recently:

  • On Saturday Al took the kids to a picnic while I stayed home. Josiah didn't realize that I was not going with them until we were saying good bye. He looked at me and said, "Mommy, I can't live without you." It was very cute and made me melt a little.

  • Al was talking with Josiah about college and Josiah, hesitant about leaving home, said, "Will you and Mommy come with me?" Al assured him that when it was time for college Josiah would be happy to leave without us. Al mentioned that maybe Josiah would meet a cute girl at college and asked Josiah what color hair the girl might have (don't ask me why Al was talking about this with a five-year old). Josiah said the girl would have blond hair "like Mommy."

  • Last night we read a Bible story from Philippians 2, which led to a talk about temptation and the difference between thinking about doing something bad (temptation) and actually doing it (sin). So, I said something like, "Temptation is like when you think about stealing a cookie when no one is looking. If you don't actually steal the cookie, you haven't actually done anything bad. But if you do steal the cookie, that is bad. Its not always naughty to think about bad things, but you should not do bad things." We talked for awhile about Jesus being tempted and such. After a while I tried to wrap things up and pray, but Josiah said, "Wait, Mom. Let's think about some bad things for awhile." I think this may have been an attempt to delay bedtime, but it left me a little flabbergasted. That's not exactly what I meant to encourage...

  • Elijah has started imitating us a lot. Yesterday he followed me around the kitchen and copied me: open refrigerator, close drawer, dry hands on towel - almost everything I did, he at least tried to do. Later on he even put a bunch of pots up on the kitchen table like he was trying to cook something.

  • For the last few days every time I sneeze at home Elijah "sneezes" too. He even puts his hand over his mouth.

  • Elijah loves getting piggy back rides. If we are sitting on the floor he'll come up behind us and start climbing on our back. Once he is on our back he signs "go" and tries to say the word (although it usually comes out "bu" or something similar). At church this weekend we were standing in line for Eucharist when Elijah leaned forward in Al's arms and tried to climb onto my back for a ride! I'm not sure if anyone else noticed, but I thought it was pretty funny.

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Tending versus Taming

Carla Barnhill wrote something in The Myth of the Perfect Mother that has stuck with me for the past two weeks:

God has crafted each child with hopes and dreams of her own, with a personality and set of passions that we are to tend, not tame.

If the title of this post didn't give it away, it is the idea of tending our children rather than taming them that has caught my attention. All too often I am tempted to tame our children. Both of our kids have energy and exuberance to spare. I am often tempted to "tame" them into being quiet and obedient. While the obedient part is good, I need to be careful not to expect them to be someone they are not. Maybe God didn't intend for them to be quiet. All the harder for me, perhaps, but how sad would it be to "tame" them so that they lost their joyful exuberance.

For example, I approach Eucharist with a sense of quiet meditation and respect. Josiah, on the other hand, skips forward, pops the bread into his mouth and chugs the juice. My tendency is to put a restraining hand on his shoulder and try to "tame" him into participating in Eucharist the same way I do. A few weeks ago a friend from church told us how much she enjoys watching Josiah take Eucharist. She appreciates his joy. What a good reminder both that Eucharist has multiple layers of meaning, one of which is joy at the resurrection, and also that different people relate to God in different ways, including Josiah. Quiet meditation and joyful exuberance can both be appropriate responses during Eucharist.

I struggle with discerning tending from taming, but Carla's quote was a good reminder for me to be more concerned with tending our kids God-given gifts and passions than with making them polite and well-mannered.