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?