Saturday, March 29, 2014

Time to Face the Music

Yes, when you hear the phrase, "time to face the music" it typically means "ready to receive punishment" or  "to accept the unpleasant results of one's actions".  But this time, I'm saying it literally.

Yesterday, I blogged about Ashton's love of the violin and at such a young age should I encourage her and try for lessons or is she too young.  I did cave and buy her a cheap small violin that she could "play".  I don't know when it'll arrive... sometime early April.

However, I worried, "Am I insane?"  "Am I doing right by her, or projecting my wishes onto her?"  I don't want to be one of THOSE parents... you know the ones that push their children more than they should on something they don't want or aren't ready for yet. I know they mean well, but it's not in their best interest for their children, though at the time it looks like it is.  I don't want to push more than she's capable.  I don't want to read into her love of the violin.  I want to be sure I'm encouraging her the best way possible.  I know as parents, we make mistakes.  But it's how quickly we correct them and do right.  So I go back and worth, wavering... testing the waters about something I have no knowledge about.

I even posted on Facebook in a private adoption group, asking others for confirmation.  I was told, "That is amazing! I'm a professional musician and kids can start that young. Check into Suzuki violin....they train young children."

I felt a wave of relief that I wasn't pushing her.  That maybe I was tapping into a musical ability and cultivating and nurturing it like I hoped.  Then I got another post.

"Proud of you for seeing her for who she is right now, and not letting anyone label her or hold her back, either. I hope I'm paying attention like this with my kiddos."

Slowly my fears calmed.  I might be doing right and not reading too much into this.  It's so easy for me to get excited about something and read into it too much projecting my excitement.  But I also know to take a step back and not expect too much.  It's just possible lessons, not nurturing a concert violinist.  I really don't care about the quality of what she's doing, just to encourage her love of music and the violin and make it fun for her.

Then I got a call.  The other teacher got a hold of me and said, "Tell me about Ashton."  I went to explain the rocking to music, the conducting of her arm, the toy violin and her trying so hard to hold it and then her yesterday in the violin shop.  

The teacher went on to explain she's taught many young kids, even some as young as 2.5 with a modified Suzuki method.  A light bulb went off.  This was the SAME method that was posted to me on Facebook.  (I've so got to research this Suzuki method and what it's about tonight!)

She went on to tell me about she would need to do a few assessment classes to see if this would be a good fit for her, with the violin and with the teacher /student relationship, chemistry.  She told me she would learn the box violin first... I will know more about that I assume after the first assessment.  She stressed NOT to give her the 1/32 violin until she was ready for it... after the box violin. 

She told me that she would be giving her fun games to play and that I would do these with her everyday between classes.

The sessions could be 15 minutes once a week, but Ashton's personality would determine the length of the session.  So her assessment could be hold off a bit or it could be let's get this child started.  Who knows?  But I am so excited about the idea.

She said she would like to do Friday classes.  Today was Friday... so why not after work take her for the first assessment.  Really?!?  Why not.  So Ashton went to meet with Ms. G.

We discussed expectations of canceling a lesson, that she needed to bond with her so I needed to stay back and not talk and just take notes.  

She tried to trace her feet in three positions she was able to only trace her feet the the rest position.  Then she had Ashton try a box violin.  It's really just a tissue box with a ruler.  It to teach her to hold a "violin" with her chin and not her hands.  Her box was too big for Ashton.  She then drew a violin on one hand and a bow on the other with marker.  Ashton rubbed her hands together to show the bow goes on the violin.  It gave us a good laugh.  Then she played on her own violin for Ashton.  Then we got a homework assignment.  We're going to have these assessment meetings for roughly a month to see if Ashton has enough of an attention span to learn.  If not, we'll try again in a year's time.

Ashton's first assessment didn't go too well, as she was hoping to draw her feet in three positions and only got one, but as it was a new place and a new person, maybe the first one was a bit overwhelming for her.  Homework is to get Ashton to try and stay in the rest position where the feet were traced and keep her feet there for 20 seconds.  Hopefully, we can do that and get her to focus on getting her feet drawn next week.

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Friday, March 28, 2014

My Little Girl's Obsession

I bet for those who follow along, think this would be about her fox toy collection, or fox outfits... yes, my precious girl is obsessed with foxes, but she has another obsession in which I have written much about.

My daughter is obsessed with the violin.

When we first received our child's file there were a few descriptors.  One was we were told this child loves music.  Well, on most children's descriptions it says loves music.  So we took it with a grain of salt.  But it is so true.  

Since the day we came together almost a year ago, She would listen to certain songs and her hand would sway side to side like she was conducting the music herself.  This girl loves to sing, toddler-dance aka hop around, and this girl loves listening to the violin.  I always have too and have played my "Last of the Mohicans" soundtrack or "Swan Lake" or "The Red Violin" or music from 2 Steps from Hell, Bond, 2Cellos, David Garrett and so on and she likes it, yelling "Violin" with excitement (even if it's a cello).

She asks to watch YouTube videos of children playing the violin.  And she loves it!

Months ago I bought her a toy violin for her to play with.  She loves it to.



She used to just press the green, clef button and would just listen to the music.  Then a few months ago, she would set the violin in front of her on the floor and take the bow and stroke it across the "strings".  Lately, she's been trying to take this huge toy and put it under her chin and hold it while trying to "play" it.  But it's WAY too big.  It's almost too wide as it seems she's looking to the ceiling.  We always have to hold the violin up for her so she can keep it under her chin as she uses her bow.  She has been trying to "play" it everyday.  It's heartbreaking to see it so big and her struggle and not understand why.  It's easier not to put it under the chin.  Some days it's under the chin and other days it's not.




Anyhow, yesterday she got her 2 1/2 year check up at the pediatrician's.  She's growing fine, but still not on the growth chart.  We don't care.  She's growing which is all that matters.  Anyhow, for being so good we promised to take her to a violin store.

She was thrilled.  She kept saying "Violin" in the car on the way to the pediatrician and after to the violin store.  We got there and she saw all the violins and was ecstatic.  I wish I could have gotten video of the whole experience.  You wouldn't believe a two-year-old would go gaga over a violin shop, but she did.

She in normal fashion went straight for the violins hanging innocently along the wall, free for anyone to pull off.  We had to grab her to stop.  And they were full sized anyhow. 

Now, neither my husband or I play an instrument.  I played piano a few years in grade school, but is pretty much mostly forgotten.  My husband used to DJ and scratch records, but I don't think that counts as an instrument.  So we know NOTHING about this world.

Going in we asked in all naiveness if there were any teachers that taught violin to a 2 year-old-toddler.  The man shook his head like you silly, pushy mother - of course not.  He said they start at 6, usually.

Oh, I said.  (On YouTube I saw a few 3 year old and 4 play... I knew it wasn't the norm, but I thought for those that really wanted to play it was possible... but maybe that was for the pushy parents?  What do I know?)  Well, she is so insistent, I tried to explain.  I was just thinking of someone to show her how to hold, the form, maybe a note or two.  You know 5-10 minutes a week.  Nothing big.  

My husband asked if there was even a violin that was small enough for her.  They pulled out a 1/32... the cutest, smallest baby violin you EVER saw.  

We drew out a shopkeeper crowd.  There were just two shopkeepers talking with us initially, now there were four.  I'm sure they were looking at us like we were a joke.

(But why make a 1/32 if it couldn't be done?)

Ashton was giddy begging to hold it.  They nodded that she could.  We gave it to her getting on our knees as with a toddler, we didn't know how she'd react.  This wasn't something you put on the ground like she did her toy violin.

She immediately put it under her chin and held it pretty well.  It was beautiful.  I wish I had gotten a picture.  Then she looked up at me with her free arm motioning for the bow.  I was hesitant.  The shop keepers offered me the bow.  I held the end and put it in her hand as well and tried to help her "play" the violin.  Ashton was tickled, but after a few seconds didn't want me to hold it.  Like I was holding her back.  It became a battle of wills.  I was so afraid for her to hold the bow on it's side (which she has done many time with the toy violin) or to not place it in the right spot... I mean this violin was real!!

My husband asked how much... $250!!!  

Oh, yeah.  I couldn't let her hold the bow by herself.  But my husband said for her to try just a second.  It'd be okay and we'd stop her in time.  I didn't know how that could be true, but I let go.

And it was the most beautiful thing.  She was doing it!  I mean, sure, it was squeaky.  It was terrible.  But my 2 year old would now and then get a note out.  On her first try, my little girl was essentially playing with no instruction!

The shopkeepers I was told later by my husband were stunned.  I don't know as I had all eyes zeroed in on my daughter it was all I saw.  Her and her love of music.  Her standing 10 feet tall, showing us she knew what she was doing.

After about a minute we pulled it out of her hands... I mean it was $250 dollars!!!  She threw a small fit.  She was so upset.

Then a shopkeeper said, "Some kids start as early as five, with her - I'd start her at four."  It was neat to hear them say that.  Saying start at six, and then seeing her love for the instrument and say four.

Another shopkeeper brought me a piece of paper.  "I don't know if they will, but here are two names.  Maybe they will give her some music fundamentals or teach her now if you wish."

I called one right away, while we were still in the store.  My husband was helping Ashton with the water fountain.  The woman was very nice, but said, that kids were really unteachable then.  She tried.  That it would be best to put her in kinder music or something else where she could beat some drums.

I thanked her for her time.  I then called the other teacher and got her voice mail.  I told her I had a 2.5 year old dying to play the violin and if there was any hope of short basic lessons or something to encourage her.

Ashton by this time was getting cranky as it was a little past her dinner time.  We then thanked the shop for humoring us and we went out to eat some dinner.  Ashton become our goofball again with all crankiness cured.

My husband and I talked.  We couldn't buy a violin that much just to humor her.  She's a toddler.  Things break.  Maybe we should look into this kinder music.  

When we got home, I gave Ashton a bath.  Ashton kept saying violin a few times; and I knew she had a good time.  We watched her Nutcracker music box and then she went to bed.

I then noticed I had a voicemail on my cell.  The teacher called back.  I listened to the message.  She said she had taught some that young before and it really depended on the child.  She said she was willing to give a couple of test classes to see how she did.  She asked me to call her the following morning or over the weekend.

I was shocked!  Really?  Wow... information to digest.

Then my husband checked out Ebay and found a 1/32 violin, case, bow and resin all for $40 and free shipping.  That was SO MUCH better than $250.  And I didn't care about the quality.  She's two.  She just wants something that fits.  SO we did an impulse purchase and bought it.  It may come in time for Gotcha Day or Easter.  If she breaks this one, $40 is hard to swallow, but I can handle that way better than if she broke a $250 dollar one.  So we'll see.

So today I can call this woman and see if Ashton is a good candidate to take a 10-15 minute weekly classes.  I don't know what test classes entail, but she's worth it.  (As long as the classes aren't highway-robbery... it's got to be affordable - I mean how much can a class really cost for a 2year-old?)  

And if she never takes a class, I think her "playing" with the violin and putting it under her chin and holding it to her size and "strumming" it or whatever you do to play it, will give her lots of validation and confidence and excitement.  

I don't care if she has lessons or not, truly.  But I do believe in trying to cultivate her love for music, and this new $40 1/32 violin, I think will do it.  I can't wait for it to arrive!

I don't know what her future holds for her in regards to a violin, but at least I can say I didn't hold her back.  And if it's a passing fad for her, that's okay.  Right now I have a budding violinist, and I'm happy to oblige.
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Monday, March 24, 2014

Turned in Resignation

After what happened on Friday, I went to Ashton's daycare and turned in our 2 week notice.  Ashton's last day will be April 4th.  If she stayed through April 29th, she'd have been there a whole year!  We are just a couple weeks shy of that.

Today I had my girl dressed as a panda bear, and every time I called her my panda bear she'd giggle!  She was very excited to be wearing it.  I thought she looked great!  Hopefully, it doesn't get too stained today and I can wash it out.  We've lost a few outfits from crazy stains from daycare.


She loves the mini pockets, couldn't get her hands out of them!

The boots make the outfit, and found them at a second hand store!

I prayed that her teacher would be there when we arrived.  Typically it's just an older woman who watches the front desk and receives the weekly deposits, and a few caretakers in the room who don't speak English.  I wanted to see her teacher and let her know that I love what she's been doing for Ashton and it wasn't her or their teaching methods, I was solely concerned about her safety.  2 fires in less than a year, just wasn't safe enough for my daughter.

I gave her the resignation letter and asked for a confirmation letter at the end of today.  I don't know if I have forms to fill out or what, but I gave our two weeks as was asked in the paperwork we signed on when starting her daycare.

We haven't locked in any new daycare yet, but if we had to make a hasty decision today we could.  So knowing that I feel at peace with this decision and hope our search ends up what's best for Ashton.  What we're concerned about is her education.  We want to be sure she's getting a good foundation of knowledge and is learning about God, her basics: colors, numbers, letters, social skills, and some physical activity.  I'm sure there's more on the list like meals and who her "classmates" are and everything, but that is our main focus... oh, and that the daycare hasn't been on fire twice in a year's time! :)

Once we know where were going, I'll update here about her new daycare.  It's funny, she'll start April 7th, one day before Gotcha day!
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Sunday, March 23, 2014

Lasagna Day

Today we were invited to my Grandma's house for lasagna with the family.  My cousins were there with their kids and my aunts and uncles and my mom.  Even Aunt A. brought her new puppy to show off, which she rescued from a shelter.  

Ashton played shy at first, afraid to leave my side.  But after a time she had fun with the girls.  They loved going outside and walking Mattie the new puppy.  They also chased one another and played on a phone together.






Ashton loved the lasagna and she was gaga over the lemon cake... as was I. 

 What was really neat was near the end of the visit we all went to see my cousins's house that he bought and has been renovating.   It was gorgeous.  But the best part was that Ashton's cousin Ms. M (The youngest one in the picture) found a dog crate and patted the space next to her in it asking Ashton to join her.  Ashton climbed on in and shut the door behind her.  The girls were having fun in the cage as the 2 dogs were circling the crate wondering what went wrong.  It was hilarious!






By the end of the visit Ashton was giving everyone hugs and waves goodbye.






But on to the important news I know everyone is wondering about... Ashton's daycare.  We're interviewing a few locations to see what is best.  We don't want to make a hasty decision.  There are a few options that we're looking at and want the right fit for her.   We're hopeful that God will lead us to the best place for her.
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Friday, March 21, 2014

Busy as a Bee

I couldn't post this on the Internet until I notified the right people today (Monday).  Now that I have, this is the post I wrote on Friday.

I can't believe it.  It's been a crazy day.  First, I had a sleepless night.  I was wired for some reason and was sleeping lightly.  By the time the alarm rang, I was exhausted when I had to start the day.  

I woke Ashton and she looked so cute today.  I stole a few snapshots.




I thought I'd take a chance on her daycare today and try sending her in a bow... well, flower.  I never send her with anything in her hair, thinking it will get ruined or lost... and for good reason - her boots have come back without the ball tassels, her clothes always are dirty, stained and now and then socks missing.  But I thought I'd give it a try as the flower in her hair was so cute and brought out the flowers in her skirt.

I drove into the parking lot to drop her off at daycare and I saw people running out.  Kids, teachers, rolling cribs.... I also saw a police car with its lights going off.

I went up to one of the helpers and asked what was going on. 

"Fire!"

"Again?!?" I cried in disbelief.  We had a fire in June last year!

"Where, what happened?" I wanted to know the situation.

"I have to drop my grandkid off at school." was all she said.  

"Is everyone okay?" I asked.

"Yep." she walked away worrying about her grandson.  So, I got in my car and drove out of the parking lot.  No sooner when I left 3 firetrucks rushed by me.

I don't remember seeing any smoke or fire.  So I hope it was small and contained.  But regardless... (Later I was told is is under investigation... it could be electrical or rodent caused... they don't know yet.)

I knew there was no daycare today, so I drove Ashton to work with me.  I had several meetings that day so I couldn't work from home... not yet.  Luckily, I was able to have a co-worker willing and able to watch Ashton for me during my meetings.  

When I came in I had the company newsletter that I had put together and needed to distribute that day.  So I held the stack and Ashton handed them out to each person.  Some got three and some got one... she was picky on who got more than one copy. :)  It was so cute and she was so happy to help out Mommy.  Now and then she wanted to sit the the empty swivel chairs and I had to coax her back to delivering the newsletter.  But overall she loved handing them out.

I worked best I could with a toddler at my side bored with coloring and wanting to explore the area.  I got a few spilled cups of water on paper and one time she opened an email ready to send her own thoughts of the day... but pretty much, she was good and stayed on the opposite side of the desk coloring on a note pad with coloring pencils.  She even found a stool and would open my file cabinets and file away my clip magnets.  She had fun with those. She was really well behaved. I was proud of her.

But I had it with her daycare.  There's been too many things wrong.  This broke the camel's back and Ashton isn't going back to that daycare.  I am currently looking for a new place to take her.  I can't afford the best daycares, so I'm currently shopping for in-home daycare.  I can only pray I find one that won't sit her in front of a TV and one that has a good curriculum and meals.  We will see.


So I have a lot to do this weekend, if I'm to find her a daycare before Monday!

When Ashton and I got home, it was such a beautiful day, we had her ride her ATV.  And today was the first time she held down the button and rode all by herself... with me following closely behind.  It was great!



Now for those who are worrying she's out in the middle of the street - technically yes she is.  But we live at the end of a cul-de-sac and hardly anyone comes down it.  I let her ride only in half of the cul-de-sac and only when there were no cars moving on the street.  Otherwise, she's not allowed to play in the street.



Regardless how busy and crazy the day was, Ashton had a blast!  And we got an impromptu Mommy-Daughter day together.
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Monday, March 17, 2014

Happy Birthday, Arwen!

Today is Arwen's birthday.  Ashton has been singing happy birthday to her all weekend.  Well, she's singing it everywhere but to Arwen.  She'll sing it in the car, during a bath, going down for bed, but Arwen isn't there to hear it.

Regardless, I had this green dress since before I was matched, that I wanted to have AShton wear for St. Patrick's Day and I thought I'd get her and the birthday pup together for a mini-photo shoot.  You think taking a photo of a toddler is tough?  Try adding 1 dog.  It's nearly impossible.  I can't imagine trying all 5 one day.

The photo shoot wasn't all I imagined.  I had 2 unwilling subject.  So I'm lucky I got any at all.  But here are my two shamrocks!  

I tried starting off on the dogs' bear bed, thinking it'd be most comfortable for the pups and Ashton would enjoy... That didn't work out too well.

Ashton ended up hitting her elbow on the edges of the furniture... so we moved to the bed and Ashton wanted to jump and Arwen take off.  So it was just Ashton time after that, and that wasn't much easier.

Our Shamrocks
Happy Birthday, Arwen!

She was so excited to get to hold her!
Just me?

Kiss the boo-boo on my elbow.

You want to see my cute bow in back?


Taking bow off now, okay?

After jumping about
Who's that cutie pie?
Nice to meet you
Photos over, I'm outta here!
When we get home after daycare and work later today, hopefully we can actually have Ashton sing Happy Birthday to Arwen in front of her face and celebrate a bit.

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Thursday, March 13, 2014

Doggie Pajamas


Ashton is growing and she won't be able to wear these doggie pajamas much longer.

These doggy pajamas have a lot of meaning to me.  It's silly really.  But let me explain.

Months before I was matched and trying to get our dossier together, the way to feel better about the agonizing process was shopping therapy.  To get something I knew she would use in the future.

As we didn't know how old our daughter would be, but seeing what was likely we typically only bought 18 months or bigger.  No and then only a 12 month if it was SUPER cute.  But we didn't want to buy too many clothes that may not fit my future daughter.  No reason to waste the money.

One day I found these pajamas that I just loved.  We are a dog family... we have 5 amazing dogs that are our family.  So anything with dogs and girls are great.  Usually you find kitty cats for girls and dogs for boys.  So I saw these adorable pajamas with a doggie on the butt and feet... it was too cute.  But the biggest size was 6-9 months.  I passed it up forever... but finally after weeks, I broke down and bought it.  I just loved it so.

I got teased that I got something WAY TOO small and that I'd have to cut it up to get it to fit my daughter.  I didn't care.  I really loved the pajamas.  They were too perfect.

Forward to China, they were Ashton's first pajamas we put her in.  And she SWAM in them.  They were WAY TOO big!!






I didn't care.  She looked great and I knew they were perfect for her, and look at her now!  She loves them and asks to wear them some nights, though I know it's getting tight.



My girl has grown so much in this year we've had her.  It's amazing to see all the changes.  I'm just glad she got to wear these beloved jammies for a year!  Who knew?!?
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Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Taste of Spring





Yesterday was a beautiful day.  We couldn't ask for a better day.  No coats, sun shining... it was in the 60s and perfect! 


So we did some spring cleaning.  We opened up the windows, aired out the house, cleaned out our cars, while Ashton played on.




It was great.  She even wanted to go in he stroller around the neighborhood.  Who could deny her that.  She was all giggles and adventure yesterday.  She had fun running and playing with her trike, her ATV and her radio flyer.  Then we brought out the slide.




But look how big she is on her slide!  She was so tiny, and had a hard time the first time we got it.  She's grown so much!  I thought I had video and photos of her when we first got the slide... now I'll have to be on the hunt for past stuff.  Wow, already I'm looking for older things I thought we've documented.


Picture I can find of her first on the slide.


Seeing a neighbor's toy she wants... and is asking/begging to try.
It's funny how lately, with our year Gotcha Day anniversary coming up, that I'm noticing so much change and feeling of nostalgia.  Maybe I'll try and put a year video together or something.  Document our first year together... who knows.  I just want to be sure I don't loose all these amazing moments.

This morning it's raining and snow is in the forecast to follow quickly.  Yuck!  But yesterday is worth another snow day, I suppose.

Spring can't get here fast enough.
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