At the grand old age of 3.5 years, Ava has got the part of Mary in her preschool Nativity.  The staff are being rather ambitious and have even allocated some of the kids some lines – of course Mary has one or two, but Ava absolutely WILL NOT speak to me about her part, the play or what she has to say… see the thing is, she is pretty horrified that she has been cast as Mary.  I made the fatal error of naming her lady parts “Mary” and now she is (understandably) making the link between the name for her privates and the part she is playing in the play.  Parenting fail.  I have no idea where the term “Mary” (in relation to her bits) came from.  I certianly didn’t use that terminology when I was a child.  We just used it a couple of times and it stuck.  Now, with the benefit of hindsight, I can see that we should have used the more traditional label of “privates” or “bits”.  Having realised my error and wanting to warn other parents not to make the same mistake I did, I posted this oversight on a couple of my parenting forums – I asked what names my virtual friends used for their daughters parts and was shocked to hear some of the responses… there were an awful lot beginning with “f”: fanny, faff, foof, foofy, foofoo were amongst the most common.  Some parents chose “vagina” whilst others were more anatomically correct and called it “vulva”.  I might be a bit of a prude, but I just couldn’t see my 3 year old going round referring to her bits as vagina or vulva… I would like her to know this is the correct biological terminology when she is a bit older, but while she is little, I think I will go for something slightly softer sounding.  Anyway, I digress… I have to make Ava’s “Mary” (as in the Virgin Mary this time) costume.  I learned that Mary wore blue (new one on me), so I am going to have to dig out some blue sheets or something and tie them around her.  Ava will not be impressed unless she can be adorned with a tiara and high heels – here’s hoping she doesn’t throw a diva fit when she sees what she has to wear! The preschool Christmas party is on Saturday – I can’t wait!  I have a horrible feeling I might shed a tear seeing her “acting” in her first play.

Ava's last ballet lesson of the year

So from my big girl drama star to my little girl star… We had Seren’s Special Needs teacher come round today – she is always very complimentary about Seren’s development, but then I honestly think Seren is a genius.  She is just doing so well!!  We went through the Makaton signs that Seren is attempting and achieving with the most accuracy and I was surprised to find that there were about 20.  They are simple signs, don’t get me wrong, but such a solid start to her communication efforts that I was left feeling really good about her achievements.  Seren is also trying to put 2 signs together – she can do “toothbrush please” and also a point to what she wants followed by “please” and finally today she pointed to a book, signed “book” and then immediately signed “please”.  She is really getting it and I can’t tell you how proud I am, I am so overwhelmed with her development that it makes me feel quite giddy with happiness sometimes.

"Ha ha ha ha!! I'm naughty and I know it!!"

The older Seren gets, the more her personality is starting to shine out.  I was told by one of the “professionals” when she was a baby that I should expect a placid child, one which would have to be encouraged to make choices and helped with every step of her development.  I definitely do not have a placid child in Seren – she does not need help making choices (in fact she is quite demanding in letting me know what she wants!) and although I do help her with her development, I feel like I am merely a guide and she is doing the majority of it by herself… and at her own pace.  I think if Matt and I placed emphasis on the speed at which she achieves things, we would be spending a lot of time disappointed – she takes her time, that is for sure, but she gets there and somehow it makes her accomplishments so much more exciting and worthy of celebration.  She is a character – she knows how to engage with an audience, and if you catch her in one of her entertaining moods, she will do anything she can to get a laugh.  She loves company – so many people tell me how nicely she plays and interacts with children when we are out, but at home, she is miserable unless she is with me, Matt or Ava and spends most of her waking hours following me around and playing around my feet.  She is mischievious to say the least – she has no sense of fear and can’t be left anywhere with anything that she could climb up / fall off / open / eat… in that sense she is more like a baby, but she is coming up for 18 months old.  I forget about her age – she is just Seren and we are so used to her that we forget that her developmental delay is so marked now – somehow its irrelevant as her personality is growing in strength every day.  She is such an important part of our family – life without either of my girls is not even worth thinking about.

She opened the drawer, emptied it, then climbed in and was VERY pleased with herself!

It’s St. Nicholas tonight – it’s a bit of an adapted tradition from when I was a child.  I was born in Germany and the tradition is to put a wellie / boot outside the door and if children have been good they get sweeties or a little gift, but if they have been bad they get twigs (for parents to hit them with!!).  Ava has cleaned her wellies tonight and put them outside the back door – she is hoping for sweeties and I have made little bags of sweets to put in the wellies.  One for Ava and one for Seren.  Seren doesn’t actually eat sweets but I need to make it “fair”.  There are some chocolates in the bags though so there will probably be some swapping going on, whether Seren likes it or not.  Seren is really partial to chocolate… and cake… and especially chocolate cake!

Chocolate cake is a firm favourite!

What do you mean its all gone?!?!?

 

We have a Treat Box system in our house.  Sweets and chocolate are very limited in supply.  Sweets even more so than chocolate.  In the evening, if the girls have been good and eat all their dinner, they are allowed to choose a treat from the Treat Box.  Usually in the box are things like treat size chocolates, kinder eggs etc… occasionally a sweetie of some sort.  However one of the other rules in our house is that the girls get 2 options at meal times – take it or leave it.  We don’t offer meal options or variations on meals.  They get what they are given and they are expected to eat it.  This works well – the girls have a very varied diet and (usually) eat well.  This week however, Seren has been adamant that she would like her treat rather than eat her dinner – she sits in her highchair and spits her dinner out, throws it or just smacks the spoon out of my hand in defiance – all the while furiously pointing at the cupboard where the Treat Box is and signing “more”.  This is easily interpreted by me as “I don’t want dinner, give me chocolate”.  We had 3 consecutive nights of dinner stand-off.  She didn’t eat a single mouthful of her dinner, which meant no pudding and certainly no Treat Box.  She went to bed on an empty stomach and woke up exceptionally grateful to be given breakfast.  This went on for THREE NIGHTS!  Talk about stubborn.  Eventually on the 4th night she gave up; stared longingly at the cupboard and reluctantly ate her dinner.  After a huge song and dance, clapping and me signing “good girl” she was given her yoghurt, which she ate… then (and only then) I asked her if she would like some chocolate – its was a very defininite “yes” from Seren as she flapped her arms in delight and pointed at the cupboard.  One-nil to me!  Stubborn little bugger that she is!!

Mealtimes are messy at the best of times!

So, pregnancy… its going well, although I am very, very bored of being pregnant.  I can’t tell you how much I want to let my hair down and have a few glasses of wine.  I treated myself to a small cup of mulled wine at the weekend, and as nice as it was, it gave me terrible heartburn so I guess that’s mother-natures way of telling me that I have to wait to enjoy wine again.  I saw the consultant who offered me an amnio at 35 weeks.  I can’t complain about the service I have received from the JR – they have been so accommodating to my wishes and very flexible in their approach to my pregnancy.  I have been offered a scan at 32 weeks to check the baby again and then I can decide if I want to go for this late amnio.  I can’t really think about it right now, but I can definitely see the benefits to having it… instead of looking for signs of Down’s syndrome in our newborn, we will have a prenatal diagnosis and will be able to enjoy the birth and our baby when he/she arrives.  If we end up with a prenatal diagnosis of Down’s syndrome (or anything else for that matter) then we can prepare for the process that will need to take place when the baby is born – ie heart scans, bloods, monitoring etc.  We will make our decision in the New Year – we have time on our side at the minute.

I am going to brave the shops tomorrow for some last minute’ish Christmas shopping, God help me.  I love/hate Christmas – love it with the kids and hate having to buy the adults in my family presents – only because they are so hard to buy for, not because I am tight!! We have decided that we are only buying for immediate family this year as the whole thing was getting out of hand.  My friends are breeding like rabbits and trying to keep up with buying all the kids a little gift was exhausting.  A friend of mine has even gone a step further and decided not to do Christmas cards, but rather donate to charity – a marvellous idea.  Even better that they have decided to donate to a Down’s syndrome charity this year!  DS charities get overlooked a bit so a big thank you to them!!

Right, I am off to put sweets in Ava’s wellies and then its a hot chocolate for me and bed with a book.  My life is riveting.