Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Messy Play

Several weeks ago I was excited to find a messy play class at our local art center. I thought it would be perfect for Victoria, so I booked a session for her. She had lots of fun walking through paint, painting the windows, splashing in bubbles, and creating all sorts of messes. But while she was having her fun, I kept thinking about the overpriced fee I paid to allow her 45 minutes of messy play. I decided I would try to recreate it in our flat in a way that could be enjoyed whenever we wanted - without having to book a week in advance and pay the fees.

So yesterday I was out and about I found a big clear piece of plastic that I knew would be perfect to put down on top of our linoleum to allow us a work space. This afternoon we decided to give it a try.

It started out like any other painting session although this time we were all seated on the floor.

But then this happened...

And I quickly realized it would probably be best to remove all clothing while I had a chance.

And good thing too! Within ten minutes we were to this...

Which eventually led to this...

And although Antalya still won't join in on really messy things, she has finally decided it is really fun to watch Victoria get messy, which is a massive improvement for her. It wasn't long ago that she would begin gagging every time a some one's body part came in contact with anything messy.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Lil' Artist

Victoria is really enjoying painting lately. She gets so focused with the paint brush in her little hand. I love watching her create her masterpieces.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Worth Remembering?

Every night for more than a year now, as I am tucking Antalya into bed I ask if she had a good day. The answer is always a very energetic "YA!" And then I ask her, "What did we do today?" The answer is always the same as the first. "YA!" Then I go on and talk about all the things we did, with her exclaiming, "Ya!" after every thing I say.

Tonight I asked the questions as usual, but was stunned when I got actual answers back. Here's how it went:

Me: "Did you have fun today?"
Antalya: "Ya!"
Me: "Where did we go today?"
Antalya: "Ya!"
Me: "Did we go to Costco?"
Antalya: "Ya!"
Me: "What did you eat at Costco?"
Antalya: "Hot Dog!"
Me: "What did you eat for dessert?"
Antalya: "Ice Cream!"
Me: "What did you eat for dinner?"
Antalya: "Spaghetti!"

When it comes to raising a child with special needs, moments like these are the icing on the cake!

Sunday, December 19, 2010


You'd think turning 30 would've been the big one, but not so. Last year, my thirtieth birthday came and when in a blur of sick girls, jet lag, Christmas preparations, a family reunion, and my in-laws 50th wedding anniversary. It's easy to see how it just got overlooked, and I never bothered to spend much time thinking about the fact that I was entering a new decade of life. I felt like I could still hang onto the twenties for one more year.

But this one I saw coming! Turning 31 seemed to scream "grown up" all over it. The kind of "grown up" that means I know what I want from life, I know who I am, I take responsibility for my choices and willing accept the consequences, I stand up for what I believe, and fight for things I think are right. The kind of "grown up" that means I am no longer defined by what year of life I am in, or what year I graduated, or what I studied in college.

I guess in a way, for me, turning 31 is kind of like being handed a clean slate. The mistakes and follies of my teens and twenties are long gone, and my focus is now on the future- making my mark in the world, raising my children, strengthening relationships with loved ones, and building a life worthy of being remembered by my posterity.

Am I over-analyzing the growing old bit? Probably. But all the same, this year I feel different. I feel more confident, more sure of where I have come from, and where I am going. I hear my future calling and I am ready to take it on!

So, here's to being Thirty-Something!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Lesson Learned

One of the things that surprised me most about moving to a big city was how isolated one becomes. It seems the more people that occupy a given space, the more alone one becomes. In fact, I can see you easy it would be to live in a flat for decades and never know the person who lives below you.

I must admit, I've kind of fallen into that same mentality. I do greet my neighbors whenever our paths cross, but I have never invited them into our home, or taken the time to get to know them. Partly because I assume they are too busy to want to take the time, but mostly because it's easier to just live in my own little shell and not step out of my comfort zone.

But after today, that will change!

I was climbing the steps to our flat after returning from the grocery store. When I approached our door, I could hear yelling upstairs. I just about put my key in the door and ignored it, telling myself it wasn't my business what went on in the neighbors flat. But then, I made out a "help" among the screaming. I ran up the stairs and was surprised to see the keys in the door. So I opened it and found my neighbor laying on the kitchen floor surrounded by throw-up, having a seizure. I had never seen anything like it before. I quickly ran back downstairs and opened our door just long enough to yell at Jason to call the medics.

I returned to her side, but was clueless what to do. She was trying to tell me something but her mouth wasn't working, and only gurgled sounds came out. I tried to calm her and reassure her help was on the way. But that's when her body starting convulsing like nothing I have ever seen before. And then she went completely still.

That's when true panic set in. She had only passed out, but with my lack of experience to anything that goes beyond Neosporin and a band-aid I was terrified she was going to die. I quickly grabbed her to make sure she was breathing and her heart was pumping and then just starting praying as hard as I could that she would be alright and that the medics would get there "NOW"!

They finally got there. I felt embarrassed that I couldn't tell much more than her first name. But I was grateful that I at least knew that, and that I knew she was a single mom and had a baby and a 6 year old daughter that needed to be picked up from school. After the medics took over I found her baby sleeping in the other room. I picked him up and brought him down to our flat (the girls were ecstatic to have a baby in the house), and called the daughter's school to tell them what had happened and have them phone her emergency contact (luckily I had seen the name of the school printed on her daughter's uniform).

In the end it all worked out. Turns out my neighbor has epilepsy and these fits aren't too rare. She took a really bad fall to her head and is spending the night in the hospital. The daughter is with cousins, and the baby is with it's dad. And I'm still recovering from the fright of it all.

I am grateful I was in the right place at the right time to be of assistance. And I am reminded that despite what our natural tendencies tell us - we really do all need each other. We need to take the time to reach out to others and get to know them. If I hadn't been in the stair well to hear her screams before she passed out, it would've been hours before anyone found her and her baby.

So, I am repenting. I will get to know my neighbors - including the family below us that only seems to talk to us when they have a complaint against us. And, I will learn a few first aid skills - like what to do when your neighbor has a seizure. Because, really, you never know when you might need to step off your little island and help someone else.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Christmas in London

This afternoon we bundled up the girls and hopped aboard a double decker bus and headed into the city. We live only about 8 miles from the city center, but most of the time it feels more like we live a world away. The bus ride took over an hour, stopping at every intersection along the way and when we finally got off we were assaulted with almost wall to wall people walking up and down the sidewalks. Christmas lights were everywhere, and I even felt that somehow the massive crowds added to the Christmas feeling. IMG_9974

The girls loved the window displays, especially this one that had dozens of stuffed dogs. Victoria was glued to it for at least five minutes. She would look at the dogs, then turn to me and yell "dog" while pointing at the window, then look back at the dogs, and repeat over and over. She was so excited! IMG_9984IMG_9965

I even managed to talk a police man into taking a picture of all four of us. It's not the greatest, but I didn't have the heart to ask him to take another one since he felt the need to stop all traffic in order to take the picture.

And to top it off we all had our very first hot salt beef sandwich. Let's just say it was incredible! (as long as I don't think about the small fortune this little dinner cost - I'd tell you, but you wouldn't believe me anyways). I can even say now that, I like pickles, or at least I like these pickles. IMG_9975

We walked for awhile taking in the lights then bought the girls a milkshake to keep them happy on the train ride home.

Monday, December 13, 2010

It's Happening...

This week I'm having another birthday. I swear I just had one not to long ago. And although I don't feel any different than I did when I turned 21, this time around I will officially join the ranks of the thirty-something crowd.

Last night we had a family cookie making and decorating party. I was surprised that there was more stirring and helping than sneaking handfuls of cookie dough, and there was more cookie decorating than candy hoarding. In fact, it was a completely enjoyable family activity.

In two more weeks we will celebrate Christmas and I am thousands of miles away from our extended family. In fact, except for the two Christmas' I was away as a missionary, this will be my first Christmas Eve that I haven't spent at my parent's house.

Antalya has stopped fighting me about combing her hair in the mornings. In fact, she even lets me style it. The kind of styling that requires her to sit for 20 minutes while I part and braid and twist and make it look oh-so-cute!

Today as I was out doing some errands and it struck me just how much I enjoy the London way of life. I love that I have been without a car and cell phone for three weeks and I haven't really even noticed. I love the fact that I walk Antalya to and from school each morning. I love the fact that when I need to do any shopping I just walk to the High Street and I have all my stores right there - no driving all over town to get different things. I love that the mail and my grocery shopping is delivered right to my front door. I love the way a hot cup of tea and a biscuit helps warm you when it is so cold outside.

So what do all these things have in common? Change! And despite all my best efforts and keeping things the same, change seems to be happening all over the place lately. I'm a bit in shock lately at how quickly the months are passing. And it's left me feeling almost melancholy. I just want to smoother this two little cuties in kisses all day long, afraid that if I turn my head for a moment they will be grown up and gone.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

On the Mend

I finally decided a trek to the Dr's office was necessary. Antalya hasn't had a cold linger this bad for so long since her T&A surgery over two years ago. So yesterday Antalya and I headed outside for the first time in a week. It's was nice to breathe outside air again! I've got her on some antibiotics now and after just a day I can already tell the difference, and obviously she can too. I woke a little after 3:00 am this morning to lots of noise. I couldn't figure out why my neighbors upstairs would be making so much noise at such an early hour. I wandered out of bed to get a drink and noticed Antalya's bedroom light was on. Then I realized the neighbor's below us were probably wondering the same thing about why their neighbor's were being so loud. I opened her bedroom door and found toys and books scattered everywhere. As soon as Antalya saw me, she yelled, with a big grin on her face, "Awake!"

I think we will all take one more day to lounge around and rest, with no where to go, and no one to see. Tomorrow it will be back to the hustle and bustle of life. But for now, I'm happy to watch Antalya dance around in her pajamas, singing the lyrics to a song from High School Musical as loud as she can:

"Start. New
Right. You. Ohhh.
Now. Eyes. Heart.
Start. New"
(Translation: It's the start of something new
It feels so right being here with you, ohhh
Now, looking in your eyes, I feel in my heart
That it's the start of something new.)

Thursday, December 2, 2010

To the Doctor, Or Not?

The freezing temps and snow haven't cleared yet, and neither has Antalya's cold. She seems to be getting worse. Under normal circumstances I would head to the doctor, but considering the following I'm opting to stay home and wait this one out.
1. Did I mention it's below freezing outside? It's the kind of cold that I didn't for some reason I didn't expect to find in London.
2. Our car has been parked outside the house for two weeks now. I think the starter is finally out.
3. With no car, it leaves us the option of walking 20 minutes each way. I don't mind, but not sure it would be too good for the feverish, snot blowing, coughing little girl by my side.
4. But really, all of that seems very mild in comparison to what happens once we step foot in the door to the doctor's office. Complete fear overtakes Antalya, to the point that I'm always afraid all the screaming and thrashing on the floor will lead her to hyperventilate and pass out. I'd rather she use her energy to get better.
So, we are home! And doing our best to fight the boredom that inevitably ensues. Anyone have any good ideas of games to play with a 1 yr old and a 4 yr old?

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

It's Beginning to Look a lot Like Christmas

We woke this morning to a wintery scene outside the window. Last night we got our first snow fall of the season, and all of London was draped with a good two inches of beautiful snowflakes. I was planning on keeping Antalya home from school this morning because she is still trying to get over her cold from several weeks ago, but once she saw the snow it was all I could do to get her to stop long enough to get her boots and coat on.

On our walk to school, every couple minutes she would reach her little out of the stroller and stretch as far as she could to grab another little ball of snow to munch on. Victoria quickly discovered how much she enjoys eating little snow balls too. I was planning on taking my camera to snap some pictures of our morning walk, but didnt' realize I had forgotten the camera until we were already on our way.

It's almost 2pm and the snow is coming down in little flurries. Hopefully there will still be some tomorrow so I can get some pictures of the girls playing in it. But for the remainder of today, I think we will stay bundled up safely inside.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving

I have so much to be grateful for today! But most of all I am grateful that at the last minute we decided to celebrate this day of Thanks as a family. Normally on Thursday's Jason is in class until late - getting home well after the girls have gone to bed. since our Thanksgiving holiday is not celebrated in England I was geared up to just forget the holiday until this weekend when we could have some family time. But Jason woke up this morning and announced he was skipping his classes and was going to make a Thanksgiving dinner. He even had planned out what was on the menu. So we quickly set to making a shopping list, and the girls and I headed the store. We had a minor set back of the car not starting, but that was quickly solved by pulling out the stroller and heading to a different store that could be reached on foot.

Jason and I spent all afternoon cooking up the feast completely from scratch.

Our Thanksgiving menu consisted of roast chicken (a turkey was too big and too expensive), cornbread stuffing, cranberry ginger sauce, bacon and blue cheese brussel sprouts, cheesy mashed potatoes, and sweet potato pie for dessert.
(somehow the cranberry sauce didn't make it in the picture)

After our bellies were filled we decided to try bowling with the girls. So we bundled up and headed down the road.

Antalya loved it!
That is, she loved it for the first two frames. Then she got bored with the whole "sitting and waiting for your turn" thing and the lights and music from the arcade started calling to her.

Victoria bowled a few more frames for everyone (and despite the look on her face, loved every minute of it) until we decided we were done and left the game only half complete.

We all made our way over to the arcade and finished out our night popping coins in machines.

We missed all our family and loved ones back home, but I am grateful our little family was together today. Hope you all have had an equally memorable and wonderful Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Playing Hooky

Antalya's playing hooky from school this week. I think we both needed the break. She's been trying to fight off a cold and not sleeping well at night, and I needed some time to just be at home - away from the rushing here and there, time to just enjoy the company of my little girls.

It's been awhile since we've played with toys in Antalya fashion, which means dragging every toy and book out of her room and onto the family room floor. She was so excited.

Then we used up some of our uneaten, overripe bananas to make some delicious banana bread to snack on all day. My girls love to help out in the kitchen. They get so excited when ever they see me turn the oven on and reach for a mixing bowl.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Need Your Help!

There are several people in my life that I really admire. One of them is my sister-in-law Chamie who is a mother to 11 kids, one of which was born with cerebral palsy, and a grandmother to a little cutie with Down syndrome. Several years ago herself and her husband founded Circle of Support, a non-profit group that offers therapy and dental services for children with special needs in Arizona.

Recently they were selected for a chance to win a $250K grant from Pepsi. The voting ends on November 30th, and they really need your help if there are to win the money. So, PLEASE take a minute and click here to vote. It just takes a minute, but it could mean a lot in the life of a child with special needs.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

A Backwards Step

About a week ago I told my husband how surprised I was that potty training Antalya was turning out to be so much easier than I had anticipated. Ha! I should know better than to say such a bold statement just a few weeks into the process, right? Well, last Saturday, whatever success I felt like we were having seemed to head down hill quickly. I'm not quite sure what prompted the change, but suddenly we went from having one-two accidents a day, to having more than I could count. I was hoping as this week went on we could get back on track, but things haven't changed much.

I've felt really frustrated about it for a couple days, and several times let Antalya know how frustrated I was. That obviously hasn't helped the situation much. But, like an answer to prayers, a friend posted this link on facebook for a seminar from the Boston Children's Hospital on Down syndrome and toilet training. I feel like a new woman after listening a bit of reality. The main points I got from the seminar were that it is alright to take a step back when needed, lots of accidents will happen and it's best to just not make a point of it, toilet training can be done wearing pull-ups, and toilet training is a big deal - especially for our Ds kiddo's.

So, I've adjusted. We're taking a step (or two, or three) back. My plan is to put Antalya back in diapers or pull-ups, but continue to have regular potty breaks every 45 minutes. Once she's staying dry most of the day, I'll up it to 1 hour, and so on, until we get to two hour stretches. Then we'll switch back over to panties and see how she does.

This whole potty training thing has made me realize some of my own faults. One of my big ones is that sometimes I forget Antalya has Down syndrome. I get so caught up in wanting her to be just like her peers that I forget to leave room for that extra chromosome of hers. I forget how much harder she has to work at things that just come naturally to other children, I forget that she learns differently, I forget that she needs to do things in her own way and in her own time. And in forgetting about the Down syndrome, I get frustrated and sometimes even angry when I think she should be able to do certain things and she's not. It's good that I feel the need to push her, but today I realized that more than someone always pushing her to do more and go faster, what Antalya really needs is someone to walk by her side. Someone who will be patient when she stumbles, help her up each time she falls, and cheer her on through each success. And so folks, that's exactly what I'm going to be! Because this cute little one is relying on me.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Coping Strategies

Neither myself, nor Jason were very easy children to raise. So, it's only fitting that we would have two very independent, strong-willed children as payback for all the stress we caused our parents. And boy, are they strong willed! Thankfully Antalya is mellowing out a bit as she gets older, but Victoria flat out refuses to be restrained in any fashion - this includes car seats, strollers, shopping carts, and holding my hand. Over the last few months I've discovered ways to work around for those times when I need her cooperation. One such event, is our trip to Costco. They only way we make it through is follow a set pattern that includes stopping at the food court first to get Antalya a hotdog, and a jacket potato with baked beans for Victoria and I to share. I quickly scarf my food as fast I can to get something in before the girls decide they can longer sit at the table. Then we head back to food counter and buy one ice cream to share. I whip out the cones I bring from home and fix up a cone for each girl, and keep the rest of the ice cream as reserve for when we need it. Then I quickly buzz around the store throwing what we need in the cart feeling as if there is a timed bomb strapped to my back that could explode at any given moment. We get a mixture of odd looks and smiles from the other customers. And by the time we make it safely back out to the car I feel as if I have accomplished something great.

And so, if you ever happen on a scene such as the one below with a mother who instead of frantically reaching for a napkin chooses to pull out her cell phone camera, do yourself and her a favor and let her skip to the front of the line. It's not that she doesn't care that her child is covered in ice cream, it's just that she knows that if there is anyway of making it through the long check out line and to the car, she must make sacrifices.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

For You, Mom

Our favorite part about Wednesdays is Antalya's speech therapy session, because after she does her "work" we get to stay and play at the children's center for awhile. There is an amazing sensory room with black lights, lava lamp like objects, and tons of tactile things, plus there is a great softplay room with the biggest ball pit I have seen. The girls always have a great time and hate when we have to go. Here's a little video I took of the girls playing in the ball pit last week. It's pretty long and boring, but I know my mom will appreciate it.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Potty Training Update

Well, it's been over two weeks since we jumped back into potty training mode. This is our third attempt in the last 12 months. I'm happy to announce that we are having success. Lots and lots of success! When we are at home I let Antalya run around with her bottom half naked and when she needs to pee she will sit herself down on the potty and do it with no prompting or reminding from me. And she has very few mistakes when we stick to this routine. Unfortunately, she can't always be naked, and as soon as I put pants on her she seems to forget all about the potty, but with some prompting we sneak by with just a few accidents. At school she has done really well the last few days. She won't tell her aid when she needs to go, but her aid is diligent in taking her into the potty every 35 minutes, and that seems to be working to keep her dry. Today was our best day yet - no accidents, except for one poop in her panties. I'm so happy she is doing so well.

In other news, it has been a very cold, dark, rainy last couple days. The kind of weather that makes you want to cuddle up by the radiator, make some yummy soup, and read a good book. So tonight we tried a new recipe for Chili con Carne. It was excellent! So thought I would pass it on.

Rich Chilli con Carne with Spiced Butter
For the Chilli:
6 tsp olive oil
1 lb ground beef
1 large onion, diced
2 whole star anise
3 gloves garlic, minced
1 can diced green chiles
2 T tomato paste
juice from 1/2 lemon
1 can chopped tomatoes
2 cups beef stock
1 can kidney beans, rinsed and drained
1 red bell pepper, diced

For the spiced butter combine the following:
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp chilli powder
1 tsp hot paprika
1 tsp ketchup
1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
1/2 cup butter, softened

Add 3 T olive oil to pan, add ground beef and cook until evenly browned. Drain and remove from pan. Add remaining oil to pan, saute onions and star anise until onions begin to soften. Add garlic and diced chiles and cook for another 5 minutes. Add tomato paste, stir and cook 5 more minutes until everything turns a brick red color. Add the ground beef and lemon juice. Simmer for a minute. Add tomatoes and beef stock. Simmer on low heat for one hour or until it has reduced to a thick sauce consistency. Add the kidney beans and red bell pepper and simmer for 5 more minutes. Stir in 2 T spiced butter. Remove the star anise. Serve topped with sour cream, spiced butter, lime juice, and cheese.

Hope you enjoy as much as we all did!

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Buses and Ice Cream

As promised, we had a little bus excursion last week. Antalya loved it! We rode up top of the double-decker bus. Antalya loved looking down at the people and cars. My only complaint was that it was too short. We need to plan longer than a 5 minute ride next time :)

Victoria wasn't thrilled about the bus ride, but then again, she's not happy with anything unless it involves running free with no constraints, or eating something sweet. Lucky for her, she gets plenty of both!

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Happy Halloween!


And it really was a Happy Halloween! Antalya and Victoria LOVED it - they caught on to trick-or-treating like they had done it for years. It was so exciting for me to watch because this is the first holiday that Antalya has been old enough to really get into and understand what was going on. She did so good not getting scared by masks and weird costumes, and even on the way home we drove past some fireworks and she thought they were really exciting (a huge improvement over our 4th of July experience).

My good friend Linda hosted a great Halloween party for all of us, including decorating cookies, pizza for dinner, music and dancing, and then some good trick-or-treating fun. Here's the whole gang:

Hope your Halloween was as wonderful as ours was!

Saturday, October 30, 2010

"Mommy, Boat!"

Antalya has always loved to color, but lately I've noticed that she has become very focused when she makes her scribbles on paper. All that concentration finally paid off for her today. She was happily scribbling away at the desk when suddenly I heard, "Mommy, Boat!" I came running and sure enough, Antalya had done drawn a boat! She was so proud of herself, and I, likewise was beaming.

It's the little things like this that that make being a mom to a child with special needs such an amazing job. There is so much that is taken for granted when you have a normally developing child. It's such a blessing to take a step back from that and have the time to celebrate every little milestone that is accomplished.

I'll leave you with Antalya's "boat".

Thursday, October 28, 2010

The Wheels on the Bus

Antalya loves stopping at every bus stop we pass. It's always the same routine. She spots it from a hundreds yards away. Takes off running, shouting "train, train" (she confuses the train and the bus), climbs up onto the little bench and proceeds to wait. As soon as the bus comes, she hops down, says, "ya, train, ya, ok" and then tries to board the bus. At this point I always have to stop her and there are a few moments of tears and sadness until the bus pulls away, and then we continue on our way.

It's been awhile since my last attempt of taking the bus with the girls. That time wasn't pretty, but maybe now that everyone is six months older and wiser we could actually have a good time. Stay tuned, I'm going to plan a small bus excursion next week.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Fall Pics

It's been a very long last few days. The sum of lots of small things has left me feeling completely exhausted and very homesick. So this afternoon, after we all took a much needed nap I decided we needed to bag the whole potty training thing (we haven't had much success the last 48 hours anyway), throw a diaper on Antalya and head out the door with the camera to take some fall pictures. We had a great time. I wish the fall season would last a bit longer. Hope you enjoy the pics!





Tuesday, October 26, 2010

It's been a long night, followed by an equally long day. I'm gearing up for the chance that tonight will be another equally long night. So, that being said - it's late, I was planning on posting, but I must get to bed. So I'll leave you with this great article to read.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Potty Time with a Little Baked Goodness!

Today was a successful day! We had more success and accidents and Antalya seems very pleased with herself. In fact, when it was time for Victoria to go to sleep I asked Antalya if she was ready to take off her Elmo panties and put on a diaper and she said, "NO!" I hoping her enthusiasm sticks for awhile and by the end of the week we are still seeing some progress.

On a completely different note, I found this delicious recipe. I've been wanting to find some baked goodness that didn't require eggs for those times when I have the desire to bake, but forgot to buy eggs. So here it is:

Brownie Pudding Cake
3/4 cup all purpose flour
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/3 cup plus 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 cup milk
3 tablespoons butter, melted
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1 3/4 cups boiling water
powdered sugar, for serving

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a 9 inch square baking dish or round souffle dish. Combine flour, granulated sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon and 1/3 cup cocoa in medium bowl. Add milk, butter and vanilla, stir until just blended. Spoon the batter into the prepared dish.

Combine brown sugar and remaining 1/4 cup cocoa in small bowl. Sprinkle evenly over batter. Pour boiling water over entire mixture; do not stir.

Bake 35 to 38 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the top layer comes out clean. Cool at least 10 minutes. Sprinkle with powdered sugar before serving.

It turned out delicious - a gooey pudding layer on the bottom, topped with a delicious chocolate cake. Antalya doesn't like anything the consistency of pudding or yogurt so she took one bite, said, "yucky" and went off to play. Victoria on the other hand just about licked the bowl clean and threw a fit when I told her she couldn't have any more.

Speaking of Victoria, she is quite the little girl these days. It seems I rarely see her without at least one purse on her arm. She loves hats, necklaces, shoes, putting on make-up, and cuddling her doll when she goes to sleep. What a cutie!

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Potty Training: Attempt 3: Day 1

Well, it's been just over a year since I posted this about our potty training attempts. I'd like to say that during this past year Antalya has mastered the idea of using the toilet, but that's not quite the case. In fact, shortly after our first attempt a year ago to get out of diapers, I admitted it wasn't time yet and we gave it a rest.

Six months later we gave it another try, but after four accidents in less than an hour on the first day, I decided that regardless of whether or not Antalya was ready, I was not ready! So I dropped it again.

Now, another six months have passed and I've decided it's time to give it my best shot. Antalya is off school all week, and except for a speech assessment and a birthday party we have absolutely no where to go and nothing better to do than stay home and watch movies, play with toys, sit on potties, and eat potty treats. So that's what we are going to do. One full week of all waking hours being diaper free hours. And at the end of the week, depending on how far we get I will decide to either continue (her teachers at school are very supportive and will help me on that end), or I'll put the potty training on hold again - probably until I Victoria is ready and I can do them both at the same time.

So how did today go? Not too bad. Five accidents, followed by one success! I think we are off to a good start :)

Saturday, October 23, 2010

What Puts a Smile on My Face

We've had a very long night followed by an equally long day. The girls and I are all sick. But despite how awful we are all feeling, Antalya (like always) has managed to keep a smile on my face. Here's just a few of the reasons why I think she is one of the cutest little kids on the planet.

Antalya loves to talk to herself. The times when she most enjoys it are when she finds herself in front of a mirror, and when she is falling asleep. Last night at 4 am, after tossing and turning all night and finally throwing up, I was holding her trying to help her fall back asleep. When she started talking to herself. It went like this:

"u-wite? u-wite?" (You alright? You alright?), "Ya. Ya, ok." Then she proceeded to count to ten twice, then was happy to fall back asleep.

Later in the day, she was playing with Victoria. Normally she always refers to Victoria as "baby". But yesterday when saying, "baby, baby" didn't work to get Victoria's attention she tried slowly and precisely to pronunciate "TriTri" (the nickname we have for Victoria). It came out sounding just like "Sushi! Sushi!"

Antalya LOVES to dance - even if there is no music to dance to. Here's a little video she took of herself (and, yes, she is a complete computer whiz - she pulled up this application from the hard drive memory, found the effect she wanted, and hit record).

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Autumn Walk

The weather has suddenly turned from a bit chilly, to downright cold just within the last few days. Last night we had our first freeze. Which made today's scheduled autumn walk with Antalya's class a very cold walk. The children were all bundled up as much as could be, but it was still COLD! But despite the cold, Victoria had a great time (she kept pace right along with the 3 and 4 yr olds, never tiring once), and Antalya enjoyed it all except the walk back. By then she was just too cold and too tired. But with lots of encouragement, coaxing, bribing, and pleading she made it back to school all on her own two feet. I was so proud of her. I think it was the longest she has ever walked at one time. Here's some pictures I snapped with my phone during our outing.

After a nice long nap for all of us I thought it would be fun to visit an indoor playplace that we haven't been to yet. Places like these are all over London and very popular during the cold, wet winter months when no one wants to be at the playground. I don't think there are very many equivalents in the states. This particular one was three levels high. They always include ball pits, lots of slides, mazes, and obstacles - all constructed of soft material, and surrounded by netting so the kids can tumble around all they want without getting hurt.

This is the view from the top level looking down.

Here's the girls having fun: