Thursday, September 20, 2012

Domestic Darling

Today after I picked up Gianna from school, she helped me cook a meal for some neighbors who are sick as well as for our family. I ran out of an ingredient midway so we zipped to a nearby market. On our way there Gianna exclaimed, "Oh no! I still have my apron on." I told her it wasn't a problem to which she responded, "Oh man, now everyone will know I'm a cooker."

Well, if they didn't know then - they know now, cupcake!

Made me chuckle. ;)

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Hooray for Ballet!

 Ballet has begun and we are thrilled to begin our second year at LCDA with the same teacher, Ms. Libby and a new crop of girls (except for Isabella from last year.)

(She takes my breath away.)

As the little ballerina's lined up, I noticed something interesting.... little chunky monkey who was typically taller than most, is now one of the tiniest dancers in her class. (Same for school too.)
Looking forward to a fun year.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Kindred Spirits

The other night my dad and I took Gianna to get Frozen Yogurt after supper. As we were eating, I watched a little family enter the shop who had an adorable little girl who took my breath away.  I told my dad I would swear that is what I always imagined my little girl to look like (before Gianna). Toward the end of our treat, my dad walked over to the bookstore and I waited for G to finish.  On our way to throw out our bowls we approached the table of the little family.  I was going to remark to the parents (or grandparents - not sure) how precious their angel was, but before I could say anything, she whipped her curly little head around and asked, "Where are Y'ALL going?"  She must have already spotted Gianna and was disappointed we were leaving. Gianna turned around just as quickly and gave her one of 'oh, I'm so glad to see you' looks as well as a big hug.  From that moment, the show began.  I'm sure all the workers and patrons were so glad they were there that day.  It was like watching a movie.  These two kids were the carbon copy of each other  - friendly, animated, complimentary, inclusive and social to the nth degree.  The parents were surprised and said that they weren't used to seeing a child who was as outgoing and friendly as their little Madison.  My response, "It looks like these two girls met their match." 
They twirled. They danced, The showed off their shoes.... 
I didn't get one great picture of the two, but even in the blurry shots, you can tell how sweet they were.  
I couldn't help think of Iain and what a kick he would have gotten (and probably did get) out of these two.  Doesn't little Madison look like she could have been the biological child of Iain and me?

While they were entertaining the troops, a firetruck pulled up and two fire fighters came to get yogurt.  Gianna is infatuated with any sort of uniformed professionals - so she and Madison excitedly approached the men and asked for hugs.  They twirled for them and even managed to coerce the 6ft 4in, 300 lb fireman to jump and twirl.  Hilarious.

As the girls watched them leave, the firemen got into their truck and put on their lights and honked the big horn as an adieu to the girls.  What a great ending to such a fun meeting of precious little kindred spirits.

Friday, September 14, 2012

The Little Scholar

It's been a week and a half and the little scholar has been LOVING school.  She's adjusted very well and wakes up every morning saying, "Do I get to go to school today?"

Her teacher is PRECIOUS and is so full of love and patience.  What a godsend.
My favorite part of the morning is Gianna sporting her backpack with a spring in her step to the car.
Friday's is school t-shirt day.  They are so cute in the sea of purple. 
Today we had a challenging hair day, so what started out as pigtales, ended up in some loopy braids.  So cute.
And here are the first school papers for posterity's sake.... 
Her social skills are far better than her coloring skills. 
Let's hope the listening skills outweigh them all!
Off to a good start, I see.

And let the homework begin.... 
I cannot tell you how hard it has been to help her write her name.  We erase as much as we write and I think the writing her name six times took just under an hour to complete! I had to wake her up at 6:30am to finish the homework we started last night (above) as to avoid a mother/daughter meltdown. As you can see in the note I wrote on her paper - I am hoping our struggles have to do with her left-handedness and not because her skills are sub par.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
As far as her behavior goes, she's been really good (other than the coloring on the table incident from the last post).  She gets very nervous when other children get in trouble and one night she told me she didn't want to go to school the next day because she didn't want "Johnny" to get his name moved again. She laid in bed for an hour because she was obsessing over the potential situation.  We prayed for "Johnny" and she was THRILLED the next day when he didn't get in trouble.  I decided not to be overcome with worry about hr behavior.  My friend told her that her 3 year old threw his shoes at his teacher last week -- and the next day, called his teacher a name that no three year old should be familiar with. I'm thinking I'll let her do the worrying.

I don't think she has any one child that is her good friend, but I think that's going to be how she is throughout her life.

Oh, and for those of you who are worried about my adjustment to school and the separation from my munchin --- don't.  I am adjusting beautifully!!!  :)  That is directly related to how happy she is and how well she's adjusting.

 I only really have about 2 and a half hours before I'm reunited with her each day.  I'm still trying to become much more productive with that time.  I can start more things -- just not finishing much.

Monday, September 10, 2012


So, today begins our first full week of Pre-School and there are a few things I want to be sure to document before things start to pick up.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Even though people have been asking about our plans for school for two years now, I knew I couldn't even consider it until we were ready.  Since Iain's death, I wanted to keep her with me during that transition of the first year.  This past spring when everyone else was making pre-school plans, I was in the middle of listing my house, getting it market-ready, selling it and moving to Lake Charles.  It was mid-summer until I could start to seriously think of school and I knew many, if not most, programs were already full. 

Since Gianna has been with me all day since she was an infant, and since she was a little concerned about separating from me since her Daddy died, I really desired a little half-day program while we transitioned into our new lives.  As I asked moms about their pre-school experiences, I kept coming back to a little private Christian school called Poise-N-Ivy. Any time I mention the school, people rave about their experience.  It's been around for 30+ years and I've yet to hear a negative comment. 

As Gianna approached her 4th birthday, I called the director of the school and within minutes of conversing with this precious lady, I was completely sold.  She said that they were very proud of their curriculum, but their desire was to "saturate these little ones in the love of Jesus."  SOLD!!  I shared with her our situation and my hope for Gianna to have a really positive experience this first time away from me.  She assured me of her daily prayers for me and Gianna and even asked my husband's name so she could add him to her prayer list. That just melted my heart.  

The problem was, there was a waiting list - which was not short.  She assured me that if Gianna was supposed to be there, I would be surprised how circumstances would work so that it could happen.   We seemed to have a real soul connection and I knew that was by design.  I was completely filled with peace, even if Gianna wouldn't get in until mid-year. I just knew this was our school.

I was happy to at least have an answer for people when they asked where Gianna was going to school in the fall.  "She's on a waiting list." sounds so much better than, "I just don't know *sob* *sob*." People asked what my Plan B was and I told them there was none.  That's were I wanted her. I had a few people trying to convince me to put her in the Catholic School I went to as a kid (which I'm not against - just  not ready for - logistically or financially.) I know what feels right to me and this was the only option I had peace with. 

Fast forward a few weeks and Pam, the director, called me with the news that twins in the Pre-K 4 program were moving out of town and many people on the waiting list had other plans for school already.  I was filled with joy and now had to sell the idea to Gianna (who, for a year, has cried every time I brought up the subject of school.)  God must have been working on her heart too, because she was completely receptive to the idea and was very excited. Whew.

Pam told me to come the next day to register her and to bring Gianna.  We were the only ones there and she spent an hour with us acclimating Gianna to her new school and answering her 2,352 questions with patience and kindness. At the time, there was not a teacher in place for Gianna's class.  Pam was working on someone who she believed would be a perfect fit - "Same feeling I had with you and Gianna." she said. And boy, it turned out to be just that.

The week before school began, we had our Meet and Greet. They were smart to assign times to each family to where they could visit with the teacher and 2 or 3 other kids in the class.  Gianna was so excited and as we pulled up to school that Sunday afternoon, my eyes surprisingly flooded with tears.  All my eyes saw was the daddies walking in with their kids( the moms were there too - but the dads really stood out).  My heart just ached.  I was so focused on Gianna that it didn't occur to me that Iain's absence would be so enormous at this moment.  It wasn't really just this moment - it was for the entire breadth of Gianna's school career. It was just sad and painful.  He wasn't here. Those reminders are kicks in the gut.

I got it together and went in to the school.  Gianna's teacher is Ms. Lisa and is absolutely precious. We had already been in contact by email already and each of us had been praying for the other.  She shared a little of her story and said Ms. Pam knew that she and Gianna would be a great match. 

Meanwhile, Gianna was using her stellar social skills to entertain the troops.  She introduced herself to the other kids and asked their names. It happened to be during the week she started her joke telling, so she asked if they wanted to her some jokes and she started her little stand up routine.  The kids weren't so impressed but the adults were cracking up.  I looked at the teacher and said, "Buckle up, Ms. Lisa!"

We were given folders with all the necessary information for the school year and in it was a list of the students, birthdays, parents and phone numbers.  I scanned the list and Gianna's name stood out.  It was last on the list, which was understandable since we were late in registering, but it stood out because she was the only child who had only one parent.  Seeing it in print, I could hardly breath. I felt a lump in my throat and my eyes, again, filled with tears. I'm a single parents.  I'm sure there were other single parents - but there were two of them.  Ouch.  I felt like I no longer fit into what's considered normal.  It is so strange not knowing what is going to trigger an emotional reaction in this world of grief.  Interestingly, most of the things I prepare myself for - don't affect me, and then things like this just level me.

I also watched as two of the girls were re-united from their class last year.  Gianna was all right there with them and they didn't want a whole lot to do with her.  (One didn't mind - but the other was visibly irritated by Gianna's attempts to befriend them.)  I tried to re-direct Gianna, but I just had to let it play out. I hate watching my child not being accepted. I explained to Gianna that it might take a little while for the others to get used to her.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
The first week was short (3 days) and was hugely successful. She has to be at school at 8:30 and I bring her a little after 8:00 so she can play and socialize. She hops out of the car in the morning saying, "I'm going to have a great day! I love you, Mommy."

When I pick her up at around 11:15-11:30 she is just as happy and excited. She tells me about her day and is so funny in her commentary.

On Friday, I asked if she was a good listener. She said she was.  I asked if Ms. Lisa had to move her monkey (behavior chart) and she said no. I told her that there may be times in the future when she'd have a rough day and she might get fussed at and that it was okay to tell me about that.

Her response was, "Welllllllllllllllllllllllll....."

Me:  What Gianna?
G:  Welllll.....I got in a littttllllle trouble.
Me:  Gianna, don't make up stories.
G: I'm not.
Me: What did you do?
G: I colored on the table a little.
Me:  Gianna, don't tell just because I said  you might get in trouble some days.  (She's been fabricating all sorts of experiences lately.)
G: I'm not making it up.
Me:  Gianna, I'm serious, tell Mommy the truth.
G:  I AM telling the truth.
Me: Did you really write on the table?
G:  Yes.
Me:  You said you didn't get fussed at.
G:  I didn't. I just got a warning.
Me:  What did Ms. Lisa say?
G: She said, "Ms. Pam paid a lot of money for these tables."
I knew she was telling the truth at this point!!!!
Me:  Oh Gianna. Were you the only one?
G: No, Mommy. Other kids did it too.
Me:  Here we go. 

* * * * * * * * * * * * * *
What a fun year this will be.
I am secretly hoping Ms. Lisa doesn't have a blog!!!!!!!!

Wednesday, September 05, 2012

Watch out Pre-K --- Here she comes!!!!!

It was a big day today in Lewis Land as Gianna began her formal education: half-day Pre-K.  Huge milestone for a little four year old who's never been away from Mommy.  Even bigger milestone for a Mommy who's never been away from her daughter. 
As we pulled into the drop-off line at her pre-school (no parents walking there little ones in - which was hard, but pretty smart on their part) I wanted to impart a few last words of encouragement and offer a prayer for her.  My voice got very shaky, so I nixed that idea as I proudly gazed on her very excited, brave smile through the rear view mirror.  I just kept saying, "Wow! Gianna! Wow!"

As we pulled under the carport, I pressed the button to electronically open her door - which for a split second felt like it might have been an 'eject' button.  The precious director, excitedly greeted her by name, grabbed her little body out of the van and spun her around with joy.  Whew.  Then Gianna turned her head, looked at me with all the confidence she could muster and said, "Bye Mommy. I love you. I'm going to have a great day."

And then all my emotions poured out through my eyes and I somehow managed to drive away.  I drove straight to cemetery which is only two minutes away and was a little breathless by the time I got there.  I wanted to be able to hear Iain's voice so badly as I told him of this special morning.  Instead, I prayed a rosary.  Peace re-entered my spirit. And I met a sweet friend for coffee - almost until it was time to pick her up. 

We survived!  Me and this sassy little Pre-Schooler! 
When I picked her up from school.  She was filled with lots of stories of her day.Her teacher spotted me in the pick-up line and said she had a great day. She met new friends, learned the Pledge of Jesus (Allegiance) and said she learned a different Alphabet. Hmmm.  These reports are going to be fun to here.

I told her if she had a great day and was a super good listener, I'd take her to Chick-Fil-A.  As soon as we got there a little boy walked over to her and they had the cutest conversation.  They were in the same class and recognized each other.  Cute.
Praying for a great year ahead.
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