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Saturday, February 26, 2011

Funny Flanna Quotes

Flanna:  Ouch!  I stubbed my thumb toe.
Me:  Actually, that's just called your "big" toe, not your "thumb" toe.
Flanna:  Well, I call it my thumb toe.

Driving in the car:  "What's a boy princess called again?"

Watching soccer with her dad, a Proactiv commercial came on.  I walked into the room, and Flanna said, "Did you know if you buy that stuff, it'll make red dots on your face go away?"  (Even 4 year olds aren't immune to TV marketing!)

Washing off paint from her hands:  "Sometimes, I color brown marker on my skin, and pretend I grew a new freckle."

Whose sense of humor do you enjoy regularly?  I'm lucky to get to live with two hilarious folks.  They really help me lighten up.  

On an unrelated but delicious note:  My gluten-free vegan friends preparing for Lent will be thrilled to try out this recipe I just rediscovered today, for Yummy vegan blueberry crunch cake (no wheat, no dairy, no soy, no egg, can you believe it?).

Painting Wooden Birds

I recently went a little overboard during a trip to Michael's.  I'm not usually a huge shopper, but craft supplies are my weakness.  A few weekends ago, I walked into a Michael's looking for pipe cleaners and beads, and I came out with these adorable carved birds that I just fell in love with.                                                      Flanna and I finally got around to painting them, and now they're sitting in my kitchen windowsill--one red, one blue, and one rainbow bird.  They really brighten my day.  Now I just need to seal them so they don't fade and then suspend them from the ceiling on some fishing line so they don't look like clutter, and instead look like they belong in my kitchen window.  

What small item in your home brings you a bit of joy every time you see it?

My Life in Pictures: East Campus Picnic

Showing off her "fancy" dress
making neat shadows

Flanna took this pic of the statue on Duke's East Campus
Flanna also took this pic of herself


the scrunchy nose!  my favorite!

finding "stew" ingredients

"mud stew"

tiny beauty

another tiny beauty

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Keep Old Traditions Alive

One thing I've discovered about myself during my happiness project is that carrying on family traditions brings me happiness.  One funny (if not strange?) little family tradition we have with Flanna is that, whenever we see a tree stump, we go stand on it, raise our hands high, pretend that we are a tree, and sing "Oh Christmas Tree" to the person standing on the stump.  This strange tradition started when Flannery was only about 2 years old.  Each year, our neighbor back in Athens would place a live Christmas tree on a stump in front of his house, complete with lights.  Each day as we would go on our walk, we would stop at the Christmas tree and sing, "Oh Christmas Tree."  But then, one day in January, the Christmas tree was gone.  Our neighbor had, of course, taken it down.  Flannery, always a lover of "sameness" and routine, insisted that she could be the tree and climbed up on the stump, stretched her arms tall, and sang the song.  In that moment, our odd family tradition was born.  
And now, we just can't pass a stump without being quirky and odd and singing Christmas Carols in February.  
Here's Flanna finding stump stages at the park down the street. 

by a cool mural

What weird family traditions do you enjoy?

Jewelry Making with Cross-stitch Needle, Beads, & Thread

Flannery sorted these beads before starting her necklace.  

These cross-stitch needles are great...not sharp, and perfect for stringing beads.

Hah, the tongue out means she's thinking!

Flanna took this photo of me when she was done with her jewelry making. 

The necklace is done!  And it's a "patterin".  (Jeepers, that mispronunciation gives me the heeby jeebies.)  

Spending the Night! and News!

It seems like forever since I last posted!  Sorry to be on an unannounced hiatus last week!  I got super busy with work, Spanish class, and trying to cook/clean/have it all.  :)  So, I'm going to try to catch you up on our happenings in one fell swoop.  You may need to take notes...we've been busy!

Flanna spent the night with her sweet friend Lucy last week.  She was soooo excited to go!  She kept saying, "I'm going to Lucyyyyyy's!"  She got all dolled up in her brand new hair bows from her Grammie, her bracelet from her Grandma, and a dress with a ruffle down the front.

She did great on her first sleepover that wasn't with family!  When we picked her up the next day, she was thrilled to report how she got to sleep on the top bunk of Lucy's bunk bed, and how she had sooo much fun!

And Robi and I had an evening out on the town!  We took a nice walk, then went to dinner and a movie, and it was so refreshing to have time alone to talk and relax.  This must be what life is like when you live close to family and they can steal your child for the weekend.  I sort of remember what that's like.

Speaking of which,  I have news!!!

My hubby has a new job!  Down south!  Near our family!

We'd been hoping for him to find something here in the Durham area so I could keep this dream job I have right now.  (Seriously, I currently have the best job I'll probably ever have in my whole life.)  But, alas, that was not to be.

The job he found is pretty great, though!  At a fancy schmancy school and teaching super interesting classes.

And did I mention it's near family?  Cause that's pretty huge.

We're very excited!

Where would you choose to live, if you could live anywhere at all?

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Marriage Tips from an Autism Guru

  Pair me with this view a few times,
and I'm suddenly going to be irresistable. 
This morning, I attended a morning training on verbal behavior treatment methods for kiddos with autism.  One of the things that really resonated with me from the training was that, for kids who aren't motivated by many things, we've got to create positive experiences they'll enjoy so that they'll have the motivation to ask for the experience again.  Sometimes, we can do that just by pairing a new experience with something they already love.

So, for instance, if a child is obsessed with his Phineas and Ferb action figures, you could read a new book to him while he's playing with his beloved Phineas and Ferb set, and then, after enough pairings of the book and Phineas and Ferb, the child will become conditioned to also enjoy and be motivated to ask for the book.  This is called creating a conditioned reinforcer.

The funny thing is, that the reason this stuck with me is that the Autism Guru who was speaking, jokingly said that it would do many marriages some good if the husband and wife paired themselves with enjoyable and fun activities, so they would associate one another not just with the drudgery that is cooking and cleaning and raising children and working, but also with some fun stuff.

Maybe that's why regular "date nights" are so important for us old married folks.  We're just pairing ourselves with reinforcing activities like eating yummy food and watching funny movies, which makes us enjoy our spouses more as a by-product.

The thing is, this makes sense, but it sounds kind of soulless to me, to break shared experiences down that way.  I'd rather think of date nights as times when husbands and wives enter into one another's interests and share special joint attention, which causes bonding.   I'd like to think we're more complex than just reinforcers and punishments at work.

But, just in case, I think I'm going to take my hubby out for dinner and a movie tomorrow.

What's your favorite date night movie out right now?

A Few Funny Flanna Quotes

After I told her I'd be right back, and got sidetracked responding to an e-mail:
"Mommy, that's not being right back."

When I was sick, she told me to rub Vicks on my chest and back.  Then she said, "I know how to take care of you, cause you take care of me."

And this one was not Flanna, but a friend of mine's daughter (2 1/2 yrs old) was visiting her grandparents when when her grandpa got back from working out and went to change his clothes.  She asked, "Whatcha doin?"  He said, "changing clothes."  To which she responded, "You wet youself?"

Sometimes I wish my dogs could talk, because I'm sure they'd say stuff this cute all the time.  Tonight, they're just staring at me with sleepy eyes, and I bet they're wishing I'd head to bed ASAP so they can get their sleep on.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

How do you feeeeel about that?


I've been trying to decide whether it violates my daughter's right to privacy to post this, and I've finally come to the conclusion that she might want to know the story one day.  Soooo...

We recently took Flanna for testing at Duke's ever-so-respected ADHD Clinic.  I'd been reading about ADHD for quite a while and had been concerned about it being a possibility for her since a few months ago.  It took eons to get her in for an appointment because of their long waiting list, but in the meantime, we filled out zillions of questionnaires, had her teachers fill out zillions of questionnaires, and twiddled our thumbs until the appointment.  

The day of the appointment arrived at last, and, as requested, we brought a babysitter with us so both Robi and I could talk to the psychologist for hours and hours.  The sitter played with Flannery while we filled out more questionnaires and answered questions.  Then, the psychologist brought Flannery back into the office and observed her playing with us.  First, the psychologist observed us during natural non-directive play, and then she asked that we be very directive in the second observation.  After that, she worked with Flannery a bit herself while we waited in hungry silence with the babysitter.  (I'm not being poetic...we were just starving by that time.  And waiting with a sitter who's been stuck with your four year old in a waiting room for four and a half hours while you're waiting to find out some pretty big and personal news is not awkward at all, by the way.) 

Then, the sitter again watched Flannery while the psychologist gave us the results.  

And the results were pretty straightforward.  Our sweet Flanna has ADHD, as we had guessed.  The psychologist said it seems to be a mild case, and didn't recommend medication, but did recommend that we put several behavioral interventions into place.  Then, the psychologist got quiet, tilted her head to one side, and said, "So, how do you feel about that?"

I admit it.  I got a little emotional.  I'm not sure if it was noticeable, but my voice wavered a little as I said, "Yes,  that's what we expected."  And my eyes teared up a tiny bit as I asked, "So, what books and resources do you recommend we read?"   And as we were leaving, a voice in the back of my head wondered, "Maybe they made a mistake.  People do get misdiagnosed.  And she's so young."  

I never actually answered the "how do you feel" question at all that day.  I think that, although intellectually, I'd been pretty convinced that Flannery was going to get a diagnosis, I was still, on some level, hoping that I was an overprotective worry-wart of a parent, that the subtle things I noticed would just be subclinical quirkiness, and that the doctor would tell us that yes, our child was energetic and talkative, but isn't every four year old?  

It's been a little over a month since that day.  We've been trying out the recommended strategies, using behavior charts to reward everything from sitting at the dinner table to getting dressed for school.  We've been reading books and articles, and trying to be better advocates for Flanna at her school.  Some days, things can get pretty intense and exhausting, and other days, I completely forget about ADHD.  

And now that we've had some time to absorb the diagnosis, I think I'm ready to answer that question.  So, how do we feel about it?

Like we've got a heck of a lot of learning to do to be able to help our smartypants kiddo push through the frustration of ADHD so she can be and do whatever she wants to be and do one day.  

How do you feel about the prevalence of ADHD these days?  Do you think it's overdiagnosed?, that it's a natural consequence of the barrage of input children receive these days?, that it's worsened by the amount of "sitting still" our traditional schools require?  I'd love to hear what you guys think.  

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Splurge on Experiences

I'm reading a book right now about being a cheapskate.  I'll review it for everyone when I finish it.  The general gist of the book is that being frugal and limiting our consumer ways can really increase our happiness.  Which, you've probably guessed, is something I'm kind of into.

Anyway, one of the chapters I read today talked about how we should stop spending our money on stuff and start spending it on experiences.  The experiences are what we'll remember when we're eighty sitting on the porch in our rocking chairs anyway, not all the items we once owned.

And after a wonderful weekend spent visiting family and friends, I have to agree.  Laughing, chatting, seeing movies together...that's the good stuff.  I'm so glad I splurged on a ticket to go home for a quick weekend getaway.

Totally worth it.

The yummy-laden table.

Proud grandmothers.

What are your favorite memories from your life so far?  Do any of them involve stuff/objects, or do you mostly remember experiences fondly?

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Leavin' on a Jet Plane

Tomorrow evening, I'm flying home to visit my sister and to attend a baby shower for one of my oldest dearest friends.   Yay!

And the best part?

I'm flying home.

As in, I get to read uninterrupted for several hours.   And look out at clouds and stars and trees beneath me.

And read, uninterrupted!

After driving the 8 hours home what feels like several million times in the past year and a half, flying is such a luxury.

Wish me happy trails!

What do you enjoy now that you never saw as a luxury before you became an adult?

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Tree Climbing

The yellow bamboo was striking on Sunday.   I think that too much light turns the bamboo yellow, because we saw groves of green bamboo that looked similar but that were shady.  Any smart folks want to tell me if I'm right?  I did a quick google search and couldn't come up with scientific evidence fast enough so gave up.   What can I say?---it's late.

Flannery loves a good climbing tree.  One day I hope she can have her own little grove to hang around in.

What did you love to do as a child?

Fun with Bridges

The zig zag bridge is my "zen" spot at Duke Gardens.  I love how it doesn't take the shortest route between two points--it reminds me to "be in the moment."   The red bridge used to be white, and it was beautiful then.  But now, it just feels so exotic, especially with the yellow bamboo in the background.  I really love it.

Where have you taken some of your favorite photos?

Feeding the Ducks

The weather was just gorgeous on Sunday, so we went to Duke Gardens and fed the ducks with Flanna's BFF.  The girls loved throwing bread and crackers to the ducks, but the ducks were rather picky this time and only seemed to be going for corn (which we didn't have).

How do you most love to spend gorgeous days?