28 August 2014

Find One Good Thing

I have blogged a little bit every day, my friends, and here we are. Yes, it took me four days to write this post! But that doesn't mean it's four days good, unfortunately. Abigail is sick and Eleanor has just been uber-clingy lately, and just when I sit down at the computer, one of them demands my attention. So I get to write in 5-minute chunks. My free time has been practically nil. We've been taking 100 minute/5.5 mile long walks most days a week in order to get Eleanor to sleep and tame Abigail's grouchy stir-craziness. Pushing 100 lbs for 5.5 miles takes a lot out of a girl! I'm happy to report I'm within 10 lbs of my pre-pregnancy weight though.

It was that time of the day between lunch and nap. When Abigail is getting tired and a bit clingy, and I want to avoid any activities that get her worked up. Eleanor is very awake, wanting to grab things and kick her chubby legs and coo at her big sister. So the three of us sit down in a cozy little circle in one corner of our small living room and I'm reminded that no matter how big of a space we had, we'd still only take up this one little corner. The sun is behind some clouds today, which keeps the heat out of our south-facing apartment. So we're keeping the lights off and playing near the windows, enjoying the flood of diffused lighting. Everything feels safe and snug and perfect; for a few minutes, I like our tiny apartment.

Eleanor is on her back on her tummy time mat, grabbing plastic butterflies and studying them with her suspicious stare. She looks over at us every few minutes, mostly at Abigail, and smiles before turning back to the giant smiling lady bug threatening her foot space. I love watching her from this angle - the angle of not on her side in my arms nursing. Her cute way of interacting with the world fills up my heart and makes me forget about the last time she refused to sleep and screamed in my ear about it. She first gives everything a most suspicious stare, then blinks and gives it a big flirty smile. And then she does my favorite thing. She lifts up her legs and hurls them to the right, swinging her whole chubby little body onto her side. Everyday she looks more and more like Matt - his gray eyes, the creases under his eyes, the dip between his nose and lips. Sometimes the way she looks at me is exactly the way Matt looks when he's happy and excited. She has my grandma's cheeks though; the other day I caught a profile shot of her and I swore I was looking at my grandma.

When I slid off the rocking chair and deposited Eleanor on her toy, Abigail practically sprinted to my now-open arms. She brought with her the magnadoodle - the current favorite toy. She commands me to draw one of four things. Fshies, choo-choos, flies (butterflies), or (signed) hot air balloons. And with all the particular-ness of a three-year-old, I must draw whatever she commands in exactly the right way. If I dare start to draw Fshies with seaweed in the bottom left corner, she'll hurriedly erase my drawing, re-command, "Fshies!" and hand me the pen. Most of the time it's actually really cute. But I'm commanded to draw "Fshies!" about a dozen times a day, which gets a big boring, so I've slowly but surely been coaxing her into letting me add more to the fishy-scape. She's grown to accept a turtle, crab, and little shrimp in the tank. After I draw something, I hand the magnadoodle back to her and sometimes she'll color in the drawing, sometimes she'll instantly erase it and hand it back to me with a new command.

She handles the pen with such a sophisticated grip. When she colors in the fish, you can see each of her little fingers doing it's bit independently - controlling the pen just like an adult. We've worked so hard and we've come so far. Lately she's hit a peak in the peaks and valleys metaphor, busting out new skills left and right. I've been doing the exercises the therapists left me with when Abigail aged out of the program in May. And after a summer without any professionals to help me guide Abigail, I realize how much she truly does need preschool. I'm not equipped to handle her unique challenges - I'd need something more than blogs and library books to teach me how to teach her. I understand why for so very long people with Down syndrome were believed to be unable to walk and talk.

As much as I know we need preschool, I'm dreading the day I have to send her off. Abigail's so content and focused and peaceful right now, and the thought of her missing from my life for three hours a day seems unbearable. I'm soaking up as much as I can.

With Eleanor happily playing and Abigail happily coloring in my fish, my mind is free to wander. I think about how terrible of a parent I am letting my children play on carpet that hasn't been vacuumed in days. I think about how the house we're going to build when Matt has a forever-job is going to have hardwood floors. I wonder if I can sneak a shower in before Eleanor will want to eat, as I haven't even freshened up since our hour and a half long walk that morning.

I snap back to reality when Abigail decides to pay Eleanor a brief visit. Baybee is greeted, patted gently, informed of the location of her head and toes, possibly sung to, patted a bit more, and then finally left alone when Abigail returns to the magnadoodle. But Eleanor kind of likes it, actually. So long as she is not poked and her hair is left alone, she enjoys her sister's visits.

It is my favorite time of each day. When peace and harmony and happy babies rule the moment. When I use this time to join them instead of finding a chore. When chubby baby thighs are on display in onesies, tiny hands grip pencils in the most sophisticated way, my body feels strong from a good workout, and the overcast day gives the apartment a cozy glow.

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