December 29, 2009


We've been working on having Hannah come up with definitions for words we come across. Hannah has the typical difficulty that most individuals with Ds have: retrieval of information from memory. I know it's in there. I can see her thinking. I know she comprehends the question, and has an answer. It's just that she can't always put it into words that will actually come out of her mouth.

So sometimes she takes a short cut.

Me: What is a "champ"?

Hannah: Ummm.


Champanzee?? Ha ha ha!

December 24, 2009

Merry Christmas!

We wish you a Merry Christmas!

The Grandparents aren't arriving until Sunday, so just the four of us will have a quiet Christmas, and have a sequel once they come.

The stockings are hung.

The cookies are ready for Santa.

And Hazel is plotting to steal that carrot. (She really loves carrots!)

We hope to have a nice long conversation with Kate. Yesterday she was officially sworn in to the Peace Corps. Tomorrow she is having Christmas dinner at the embassy. She moves into her new house (brand new, with hot running water!) on Sunday.

May you all have a blessed day filled with love, joy, family and friends.

December 23, 2009


Overheard from the shower:

(During her shower, Hannah is cleaning the glass walls and door with a washcloth, trying to keep the glass free of water droplets. Yes, a futile effort. She pretends the wall is afraid of the droplets.)

This one-woman show is performed by Hannah, doing a variety of voices.

Wall (in a deep worried voice): Oh no. What are we going to do? This stuff is everywhere! Help! Help! Help!

Hannah: Not to worry! It's ME to the rescue!

Washcloth (a high squeaky voice): No! It's ME to the rescue!

Hannah: But I can help too. You need me! You can't reach all the places.

Wall (more frantic): I don't care who helps me but somebody, PLEASE! This water me WET.

Hannah: I'll save you. I'm the best. (turns off water)

December 21, 2009

Waste Management?

So, the other night Hannah and I were watching Extreme Makeover: Home Edition. It used to be Hannah's favorite show, but now she has discovered the freedom of On Demand, where she can choose from many shows (usually all preschool shows still--she's got a thing for Handy Manny and The Berenstain Bears).

Hannah's favorite part of Home Makeover is finding out where the family is going on vacation. She's always rooting for Disney World.

The episode we were viewing was 2 hours long, so it wasn't as fast paced as it usually is. Hannah was sort of paying attention, but not completely enthralled.

All of a sudden, during the demolition scenes, she started yelling, "Wow! Yay! There's William and Mary!!! I can't believe it!!"

Neither could I. Mostly because there wasn't anything on the TV that had anything to do with William and Mary.

Until I noticed that the dumpster had this logo on it:

It is green and gold.

And yes, our college boy came home just in time for all our snow!

December 18, 2009

Kate Update

We hear from Kate about every week or so (email or phone), which really soothes me. It's even better when she posts pictures so I have a visual! She is doing well.

Kate has enjoyed living with her (new) host family. It consists of an elderly widow and two of her adult daughters. They have been very gracious to her and have allowed her to have some privacy (and they don't force feed her!).

Here is a picture of Kate's bedroom at the host family's home.

And here is the town where she has been living and learning.
It's easy to see that water is a precious resource in Jordan.

Kate has completed her language training and will be moving to her new village after Christmas.

This week she is visiting a town in North Jordan where she will be living for the next 2 years. It is a small town (pop~7,000). Kate will be teaching in a Special Education Center. The student population consists primarily of children (all ages) with hearing impairment. This means that in addition to learning Arabic, Kate will be learning Arabic Sign Language! She is a little disappointed that there aren't many students with cognitive impairments, but she will have the opportunity to work on a project to reach out into the community to find children with disabilities who are hidden from society.

This week she will be signing a lease for her apartment, which hopefully has hot running water! It would be fabulous if the village had internet service, but with a town that small, it's likely that there is none. There was a previous Peace Corps volunteer in the town who completed her service last summer. It will be nice that the town has already had a westerner in their midst--I imagine it will make it easier for Kate.

The town is in the mountainous region of Jordan, about 90 minutes away from Amman. This area has the only forest in all of Jordan, and it also is the primary agricultural land. Only 1% of land in Jordan has forest.

This is the only region that gets snow. And, like most areas of the world, there is no central heating, so she will be bundling up!

The forest ends quickly, back to the rock valleys called wadi.

Kate had a field trip there a few weeks ago (before she knew she'd be living in the area). This castle dates from the 12th century. It was built as a military fort to defend against the crusaders.

Next week we hope to see pictures of her new apartment and town!

December 13, 2009

Christmas Recital!

Hannah did a great job at her recital this afternoon! We're so proud of her!

December 11, 2009

In case you were wondering....

If you ever wonder what's wrong with me, it's my parents' fault.

Take, for instance, this email from my father today:

"Just realized your zip code is a chiasmus -- a literary device worked into the structure of the gospel of Luke -- quite esoteric for a biblical scholar to have noted --not a literal chiasmus, but a conceptual one. A verbal pattern (a type of antithesis) in which the second half of an expression is balanced against the first with the parts reversed. Essentially the same as antimetabole. (Note that a chiasmus includes anadiplosis, but not every anadiplosis reverses itself in the manner of a chiasmus.) Adjective: chiastic."

Love ya too Daddy!

December 8, 2009

A Delicate Subject

I'm going to post about menstruation today. And I'm going to speak in generalizations....not about any specific individual...

It is an exciting time when a young woman begins her cycle! I remember the first time I had to bring a purse to school to carry "supplies". My girlfriends who walked to school with me noticed that I had a purse. One asked why I brought it. I proudly opened it up so they could see my menstrual pads. Everyone gasped, since I was the first among my friends to start my cycle. It was my shining moment, and I didn't have to say one word to impress anyone.

When I was in college, I took a Developmental Psych class. The professor was a fabulous teacher. We had already discussed how many cultures have "coming of age" ceremonies, from Bat Mitzvahs and Quinceaneros to ancient Native American ceremonies. Most Americans don't use ceremony much beyond religious confines.

My professor pointed out how meaningful ceremonies and celebrations are. When she was growing up she had a friend who was the youngest child in a family with 4 sons. Her mother died when the daughter was young. The father was a wonderful nurturing parent, but of course, he didn't have first hand knowledge about the changes a girl experiences as she grows into a woman. When she was 11 the daughter went through the uncomfortable task of telling her father when she needed her first bra. She also had the foresight to tell him that she was going to need menstrual supplies at some point in the near future.

The morning finally came when the daughter shyly told her father that she had her first period. Her father didn't say much, other than, "Okay". The daughter went off to school and father to work. Later, when she arrived home from school, the girl went to her room. She was amazed. Her room was overflowing with bouquets of yellow roses. There were flowers on every flat surface! There was a note from her father telling her how much he loved her and how proud he was to be the father of such a lovely young woman.

When the professor was done telling the story, all of us had tears in our eyes. We all knew that it was something we wished we had experienced ourselves--a loving welcome into adulthood.

In our culture most women do not view menstruation as a positive thing. It's a hidden and "shameful" thing. Girls learn from mothers and sisters. They look forward to their menarche, but it is rarely greeted with anything other than a tossed box of Tampax, and maybe, a hug.

Parents of girls, I'd like to suggest that you spend some time thinking about how you can mark your daughter's coming of age in a meaningful and memorable way. Whether that means a special meal with parents or strong minded women, sisters sharing a brunch together, or just a bouquet of flowers. It can be a wonderful way to show your daughter how much you love her and how proud you are of her growing maturity.

December 6, 2009

Cookin' with Nan II

Next up on the menu, Hannah's favorite lunch: A Wrap

She was in charge of the show today...

December 5, 2009

Another Great Dance Program

Sorry for the commercial at the beginning...

And if you didn't know someone who has a Honda, now you know that I do!

December 4, 2009

Dashing Through the Field, in a One-Horse Open Cart

Tappie the Wonder Pony

How much fun is this??

Blaze's hunting season out in the country.
Away go the Three Musketeers! Cady, Sarah and Hannah.

We just love this family. Hannah started taking horsemanship lessons in September. I always tell instructors what they're in for when I sign Hannah up for lessons of any kind. Nobody has ever batted an eyelash, but I like to start off with open communication with teachers, so they are comfortable coming to me if there are concerns or questions.

I have to say that this family is the best. They are the definition of a warm welcome. The kids (all five), are happy to include Hannah in everything, from skinning a freshly shot deer to swinging on the swingset. With 8 horses, 2 dogs, 8 cats, and numerous chickens, there is never a dull moment. We. Love. It.


NanTalk this evening, after going downstairs to get a bedtime drink of water:

"I've got my drink and I'm bringing up my flashlight. That way I can see like a jaguar."

December 2, 2009

Things that made me happy today:

1. Warm heart-shaped cheese biscuits for breakfast.

2. The piano tuner came and we're all set for another year.

3. Yesterday's homemade dog biscuits waiting to be packaged up for gifts for the neighbors' doggies.

4. This mysterious item:

5. The Girl Scout troop talking about how name calling hurts feelings, and having the opportunity to help Hannah share her experiences, ending in smiles all around.

6. The last of the leftovers for dinner.

7. My replacement camera! It feels so good to have real pixels again! Lo how I've missed ye Nikon!

8. The other parts of #4 which also arrived today. (Did you know what it was?)

My elderly Kitchen Aid was starting to grumble. It just had its 23rd birthday, so it gets to retire now, sequestered in the attic until some young adult needs it.

9. Nothing on the schedule for tomorrow aside from yoga for Hannah. Oh yeah. I forgot to tell you that she's taking yoga twice a week at our gym. Since her dance class is on hiatus (teacher has BEAUTIFUL newborn TWINS), plus softball and soccer have ended for the season, it was time to add something else physical to her week. She LOVES yoga.

10. Hannah is back to making ridiculous photos.

My new Facebook picture?

December 1, 2009

Getting back into the groove!

Okay, I've had my cake, and ate it too. And the turkey, bourbon sweet potatoes, roasted carrots and beets, mashed potatoes, gravy, and two pies. I didn't do it all myself--I did have help!

We had a nice Thanksgiving. It seems like it was ages ago. And now we're on to Advent! I even remembered to pick up some of those chocolate Advent Calendars (plus an extra one for Chris' roommate). And I remembered that today was December 1st. So Hannah had a little bit of chocolate for breakfast. And probably will again for the next 3+ weeks.

A week or two ago I reminded myself that I usually quit schooling about this time of year. Ahhh. It was such a relief to remember that I could stop! I was starting to get a little frantic about all the "things" that needed to be done. But once I realized I could add a few hours to each day by not doing school, I relaxed. It's times like this that I really really like homeschooling. (Yeah--did you get that? Didn't I just say I really like homeschooling when I'm not doing it? Well, it's true. I love having the flexibility to start and stop as necessary.) I *almost* feel like I might be able to prepare for Christmas. We don't have a terrible schedule--just a couple of parties (umm...I think it's up to 6 parties so far), a piano recital, house guests, shopping, baking and baking.

One nice thing I noticed within a week of stopping schooling was that Hannah had a burst in her reading skills. She has been reading like crazy! And doing all kinds of drawing and coloring. Now that she's got extra time, she's putting it to good use.

Today I asked her to draw a Christmas picture to send to Katie. Here's what she drew:

I just love it. I think I want to make it into a Christmas card (which likely won't happen....I haven't sent any out in years). I don't know if she has ever seen a stylized tree similar to that, but we certainly don't have anything like it in our house. (I have to confess that I snatched the picture away to scan it before she added anything else--sometimes she embellishes excessively and then the drawing becomes unrecognizable--she's much more about process than product. She did add some very nice wrapped gifts around the tree after I scanned it.)

She's also been enjoying some of those magic marker stained glass coloring books. Most of her friends who have moved on past coloring books still enjoy working on these pictures to hang up in windows.

Even I have been known to open up a set of 50 fine-tip markers and dabble on one of these pages. There is something quite satisfying about completing a picture and holding it up to the light.

Off to bed with me for now--the piano tuner is arriving early in the morning, and then we're non-stop until supper time. Good thing there are just enough leftovers to last one more meal!