Saturday, January 31, 2009

For Want of Some Screws

For want of some screws a hard drive was lost.
For want of some screws two hard drives were lost.
For want of some screws three hard drives were lost.
For want of a hard drive the laptop was shipped.
For want of a computer poor Tammy was miffed.
And all for the want of some itty-bitty screws.

In honor of the folks at Dell's Technical Support who need to pay attention to the seven screws circled in red in the illustration above. . .

From Tammy, the poet who doesn't even know it, who sang the Hallelujah chorus when she saw this:

P.S. Beware of reading blogs with a full swig of coffee in thy mouth.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009


Steve left for work early, so his opportunity to work on uncertainty was EASY. Mine was not! The radio station was acting up while she was eating lunch. I did the calm, neutral demeanor, and it was just not working for her. So, I scaffolded her more than usual. The station it went off and on about three times. Every time, I tried what we have been doing. When she did not calm down easily, I turned on the other radio (I have two in the kitchen--one is better with AM, the other with FM). Then when the one station came back we could switch and not have dead air. She handled that well.

I had an impromptu tutoring session with one of the twins from next door. At one point, when he was showing David his karate moves, Pamela went up to him and asked, "What's your name?" and after he answered her question, she followed up with "Where are you from?"

We ate dinner at my folk's house with friends from church. For the first time ever, Pamela joined in on the toast. We did not point anything out to her and did not even expect her to participate (shame on us!). Pamela noticed that everyone was picking up their glasses to toast, so she raised her glass of water. Steve and I clinked glasses with hers. She did not know to drink, so then I clinked her glass and took a sip of mine and said, "Your turn!" She did it! Then, she followed-up with Steve.

A couple of times, she started to get nervous about a trigger word, but I did the whole-part reminder and she settled down. It was so smooth the two guests did not realize Pamela was anxious.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Score One Victory in the Whac-A-Mole Game!

Baby David's gift, a Thomas the Train Duple Starter Set, arrived in the mail, so Steve and Pamela opened it yesterday. Pamela was excited but not over the top like she was with Baby Alive's gift, probably due to the nature of the gift more than anything we have done! The goal for Steve was to slow down and use nonverbals. He did a fantastic job and even gave her space for thinking and responding. Pamela referenced me a lot at first, but then shifted to Steve!
On the Whac-A-Mole Game front, Steve practiced how to guide Pamela when uncertain about whether or not he goes to work and what time he leaves. He talked her through various scenarios and did some role-playing. Pamela was very attentive: she played along but gave real signs of her displeasure at moments of uncertainty.
How did today go? GREAT! Last Monday was a very difficult day because of uncertainty and Steve's job. Today, we had nearly the exact same scenario as last week, except last Monday was miserable for us all:
He was not sure whether or not he would make the long commute to work or work from home today. Pamela was not happy. She could have handled a decision one way or another or a time at which he planned to make his decision. Steve truly did not know all morning, so it gave me the opportunity to work on guiding Pamela's thinking about not knowing. I was not entirely successful at helping her stay calm because we were addressing one of her high level anxieties. She went through about three cycles of fifteen-minute crying spells! . . . It was a very difficult morning seeing her struggle with this, but it was true uncertainty lurking beneath all of the tears. The funny thing is that Steve ended up leaving to go to work but only went to a wi-fi spot in town. He was home in an hour, which she knows is implausible.
Today went much, much better! This morning was also ripe with uncertainty. Pamela did much better because we all gave her the calm neutral affect about when Steve was leaving for work. He really wanted to stay in town and attend a luncheon featuring the new sheriff. So, he left the house at 10:00 to find a place to work in town. Both of us worked to keep Pamela regulated. For example, Steve told her he would be able to answer her question at 9:30. I had to leave for a dental cleaning at 9:20 and could not run interference. So, I suggested she could take a shower and she agreed.

Steve came home "from work" early and Pamela was not happy but she did not scream and cry like last week. She knew he never left Manning. He had to run errands and he invited her to join him. When they returned home, Steve needed peace and quiet for a conference call so Pamela and I went to my folk's house.

We did not whack the anxiety mole into the ground forever, but today gave us hope.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

My First Baltimore Oriole

I have always hated cold weather. Perhaps it is because I spent six years of my life in Newfoundland, Canada (the foggiest place in the world; the second foggiest place is between my ears--which I discovered at the Naval Academy), two years in North Chicago, four years in Pennsylvania, five years in Maryland, two years in Minnesota, three and a half years in Alaska, eighteen months in Washington state, one year in Connecticut, and six months in Massachusetts . . . but I digress!

I am developing a new appreciate for cold weather because, in the past two weeks, we saw four new birds at our house: painted bunting, Cooper's hawk that crashed into our window, American goldfinch, and, now, a Baltimore oriole.

Thursday morning I noticed the bird bath had frozen over again. I heated up some water, poured it into the bath, and set up the camera. In the clip below, a house finch dines at the feeder. The oriole showed up to take a very quick bath, but, before it flew off, a Carolina chickadee briefly attempted to grab a seed from the feeder but the finch foiled its efforts.

Friday, January 23, 2009


Last November, Pamela let go of her 18-month infatuation with the sacred hour right around the time we started working on uncertainty. Now, we are working on helping Pamela handle trigger words, which are also related to the uncertainty found in staying on one house, getting sick, etc. Our RDI consultant pointed out that Pamela's anxieties are like the Whac-A-Mole game: when Pamela discovers she can live one category of anxiety, another pops up. We suspect that she is testing out various areas of her life and we hope she will make the big milestone discovery: when you feel anxious, you can stop, watch and listen, think, reflect, change your thoughts, stay calm and neutral, realize you only know part of the story, and/or read the body language of people around you. The new anxiety revolves around whether or not Steve plans to make the 2.5-hour round trip to the office and, if so, what time he plans to leave. Steve and I have work to do on this over the weekend, and I will share how it goes next week.

I have not talked about Charlotte Mason in awhile, but what we are really doing is working on habits of the mind, one she did not cover. I find many of Charlotte's thoughts on habit training helpful:
But habit, to be the lever to lift the child, must work contrary to nature, or at any rate, independently of her.
Pamela's initial inclination is to overreact to uncertainty. What we are doing is building a lever she can use to lift herself out of the habit of melting down when uncertain!
How is the dilatory child to be cured? Time? She will know better as she grows older? Not a bit of it: "And the next, more dilatory" will be the story of her days, except for occasional spurts. Punishments? No; your dilatory person is a fatalist. 'What can't be cured must be endured,' he says, but he will endure without any effort to cure. Rewards? No; to him a reward is a punishment presented under another aspect: the possible reward he realises as actual; there it is, within his grasp, so to say; in foregoing the reward he is punished; and he bears the punishment. What remains to be tried when neither time, reward, nor punishment is effectual?
Like Charlotte, I prefer working on Pamela's thought life rather than an elaborate (and what I would find exhausting because of my inconsistency) system of rewards and punishments. Nor do I wish to endure her overreactions because they are as hard on her as they are on us!
That panacea of the educationist: 'One custom overcometh another.' This inveterate dawdling is a habit to be supplanted only by the contrary habit, and the mother must devote herself for a few weeks to this cure as steadily and untiringly as she would to the nursing of her child through measles.
Every day Steve has the opportunity to go to work, we have an opportunity to replace the habit of overreaction with new habits (the ones listed earlier). I will need to be very consistent in nursing her through this while Steve will need to work on avoiding QPCs and slowing down long enough to help her learn new habits.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

S-L-O-W D-O-W-N, S-T-E-V-E!

Steve does everything fast . . . he runs five miles most days . . . he zips through his check-list every weekend . . . he does mental arithmetic rather than use Excel. I can never decide if he is Ricochette Rabbit or Speedy Gonzales! One of the most difficult things about RDI for him is the S word: SLOW! Our consultant came up with a perfect analogy: our consultant is NOT a runner and, if Steve wanted to take her running, he would have to match her pace because she could not match his. Actually, the same is true for me! Steve would definitely have to slow down for me if I ever lost all my marbles and joined him for a jog.

Not only does he need to slow down, Steve needs to try to avoid QPCs: questions, prompts, and commands. Now, imagine asking a former Naval officer and current manager to avoid QPCs! To help him visualize this, we reviewed the Baby Alive video and talked about how he could have avoided QPCs. We realized the key is to fall back on nonverbals and speak declaratively. What worked for Steve was thinking out loud with Pamela. We talked about qualities of being a good guide, such as not being afraid to pause and wait for Pamela to realize she has an opportunity to react, but to avoid demanding a reaction from her.

This may seem obvious and easy, but I remember how HARD it was for me in this stage. I was trying to remember so many things at one time. It looks easy, but it is not! I think he did a fine job of coming out of ludicrous speed and working at Pamela's pace.

Making a List



Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Snow! Dolls! Birds!

This is not dandruff . . .
Get ready to smile!

I got up early (6:15 AM) and worked on Steve's laptop in the kitchen. As soon as Steve turned off the house alarm, Pamela spent the next hour, running in and out of the house, checking the skies. This does not surprise me because she spends part of every morning paying attention to the weather. Of course, we know what REAL snow is and what we saw to day was not REAL snow! However, because light flurries are so rare for this part of Carolina, as Pamela well knows, we were very excited!

Today, we worked on helping Pamela adjust to the excitement of her dolls. We noticed that Pamela did not spend any time watching television all day yesterday because the dolls were on a box on a chair in the room wired for cable. I decided to move them randomly from one spot to another during the day. When I put them on the shelf with her videos, she actually touched them and moved them to the red chair. After David laid them on her bed, she carried them back to the red chair. Later in the evening, she took an extended peek (maybe, ten seconds) at the autograph.

Last Friday, I was thrilled to see a painted bunting for the first time and surprised when a Cooper's hawk slammed into our window. The cold must be driving birds of all sorts to our feeder. Today, I saw a male American goldfinch in addition to the usual suspects. My friend, the painted bunting, fed on millet (his favorite seed) for quite some time. He has been showing up regularly starting at 7:30 AM and feeding off and on during the day. I am going to try to leave the handicam on the porch early tomorrow morning to see if I can get better footage. However, I do not think I can top footage of the bunting feeding with snowflakes flurrying!

Monday, January 19, 2009

Update on Uncertainty

Snow Showers:
I am gearing up for the possibility of snow showers tomorrow. Pamela knows that it sometimes snows in weird places like Louisiana (last month, Steve's parents who live there snapped this photograph). Having lived in Minnesota, Pennsylvania, Connecticut, Colorado, and Alaska, she definitely knows what snow is and what it means. However, she does not expect snow here in our town. I have my handicam ready for any more conversations on uncertainty, bright and early tomorrow morning.

Loonette and Molly:
Two weeks ago, Pamela and Baby Alive opened presents that completely overwhelmed her! For two weeks, she has not been able to do anything more than take a quick peek in the boxes and run off. Last night, Steve decided to take the two dolls out of the box and Pamela did not freak out and smiled at us. However, we noticed that Pamela was not able to sit in the same room with them. So, tomorrow, I plan to move them into a different room to see if the pattern continues.

Stay or Go:
Pamela had a very tough morning. Steve was concerned about two things on the home front: a heating unit that had ice on it and contractors making preparations to pour a driveway. He was not sure whether or not he would make the long commute to work or work from home today. Pamela was not happy. She could have handled a decision one way or another or a time at which he planned to make his decision. Steve truly did not know all morning, so it gave me the opportunity to work on guiding Pamela's thinking about not knowing. I was not entirely successful at helping her stay calm because we were addressing one of her high level anxieties. She went through about three cycles of fifteen-minute crying spells! Here is what I tried:
  • I slowed down my interactions with her to spotlight my calm, neutral attitude about not knowing Steve's plans. I let her know I was okay.
  • I reassured her with physical reassurance (hugs, back rubs, etc.) and kind words.
  • I told her I understood that this was hard for her. She even apologized a couple of times and I told her that I thought she was brave.
  • I said it was okay to cry because she was upset. She compared the situation to when a channel goes out or when cable acts up. I knew this was her way of saying this was extremely high anxiety.
  • We tried talking about other things (like making pizza for lunch and shopping for the ingredients).
  • I respect her need to be alone when asked unless she was using it as a guise to go pester her dad for an answer, in which case I tracked her like a bloodhound!
It was a very difficult morning seeing her struggle with this, but it was true uncertainty lurking beneath all of the tears. The funny thing is that Steve ended up leaving to go to work but only went to a wi-fi spot in town. He was home in an hour, which she knows is implausible. She told me that her dad did not go to work. She was fine and laughing when I told her it was a joke and gave her a big wink. More than anything, I think she was okay because he had finally made a decision!

Trigger Words:
Another element of uncertainty revolves around trigger words, or words that create such anxiety in Pamela that she automatically overreacts with loud and high-pitched screeching. Usually, she does this when she is playing on the computer, watching television, or listening to a conversation on the phone. Our consultant quickly spotted the consistent pattern in all of these incidents: Pamela had only part of the story! So, my objective is for her to learn how to create space around the trigger word to give her time to apply some whole-part thinking before reacting.

In the following two videos, we talk about Pamela's reaction to trigger words. Because I had her full attention, she did not scream when I said her trigger words. She enjoyed the topics we picked and stayed calm and neutral the entire time. She did not seem anxious or worried. She gave thoughtful answers, except when she was quite tracking with me. Sometimes, Pamela automatically replied "because I said so" which I think is a substitute for "I have no clue". However, once I rephrased what I was saying, she usually gave me a thoughtful reply. She especially loved the story about "selling the dogs" and enjoyed practicing hearing me talk on the phone. She usually does not talk that much when I am on the phone, so she knew it was pretend.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Holy Cow! I Can Read Latin (First Year, That Is)!

The other day, I was reading a story from Stage 8 (Chapter 8 of 12) in Unit 1 (book 1 of 4) of David's Latin curriculum. Subito, I mean suddenly, it hit me! Holy Cow! I am reading Latin. I am not to the point of thinking in Latin and, if I ever reach that point, you can have me locked up! fabula haec est "pastor et leo"--This story is "The Shepherd and the Lion." David, filius meus, and I, et ego, are enjoying the Cambridge Latin Course, North American, Fourth Edition (textbook and tests) for the following reasons:
  • They make free resources available online.
  • The tests are very well-written and focus on what is important (not minutia).
  • You read lesson from the very first sentence in the very first chapter!
  • They slowly introduce you to tedious parts of grammar (declensions, cases, conjugation) and phasing it in so gradually that it feels almost effortless.
  • Every book focuses on a period of history and geographic area(s) in the Roman Empire. The books include articles about the culture and history.
  • The first book grips your attention with its stories about a Pompeian family whose house was preserved by the fallout of the Mount Vesuvius eruption in 79 AD.
  • Some of the stories are funny and make us laugh. David calls the son, Quintus, a bum because he wrote graffiti and broke the nose of a statue when his discus slammed into it.

One reason this period in history fascinates me is that Jesus and the early church was born then. Understanding the Gentile culture helps me better understand the struggles of the Jews struggling to accept the Messiah, the Jews who became believers, and the Gentiles who joined in that belief. For the past few months, the books I read for "mother culture" are mainly historical fiction from that era with a Christian perspective:

I hope by the end of Unit 4 of the Latin curriculum to read this:

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Head-Banger Bird!

David and I were in the office, quietly minding our own business. A loud, startling thump on the window right above the couch where we were sitting woke us up from our Math-U-See Algebra II lesson. We ran outside and discovered an amazing site. Below the window that got whacked is a very stunned Cooper's hawk!

I ran into the house and grabbed Pamela who has an entire book dedicated to hawks. Immediately, she exclaimed, "A hawk!" She has already decided to write her own nature's children story about the hawk that hit our window. David and I took a couple of pictures and video before the hawk flew away and landed in our neighbor's tree. Imagine that . . . two birds hit our house on the same, cold, windy, bone-chilling day!

Next to the AC Units

I'm Ready for My Close-Up

First Short Video Clip

Second Short Video Clip

Friday, January 16, 2009

Bye-Bye Bunting!

You must be living in another hemisphere if you have no idea of the extreme cold everyone is facing right now! This morning Steve noticed the bird bath had turned into a skating rink. He heard the little chipping sparrows going "tink tink" as they tried to break through the ice. He heated up some water and a few minutes later noticed how much they appreciated his kindness.

Later in the morning, I filled the bath with hot water twice, and God rewarded me in such a delightful way. I gazed out the kitchen door window and spied something I had never seen before: a gorgeous blue bird with a robust red breast with a glorious green and yellow splash behind its neck. I flew to my Carolina bird book and discovered it was the very reclusive painted bunting. People introduced them to America as caged pets, and those released adapted well. Their numbers have declined since 1965 due to the trapping business in Mexico.

My neighbor who has lived here all her life has never seen a bunting and according to the range map, we are not in the zone for a wintering bunting. Even the colorful male buntings are hard to spot because they prefer to hide in thickets, and you are lucky to pick out its song. The poor guy must have been desparate for food and water to expose himself like that!

I grabbed the camera and took a couple of photos through the window to prove that I really did see a painted bunting. I yelled up the stairs so excitedly that David thought he was in trouble! Both kids came to the door and were amazed. We called Steve, and Pamela excitedly told him, "It's so beautiful. I see a colorful bird!" After we hung up the phone, I tried to get a couple of pictures from the porch, sneaking through a hidden door to the back porch, but the shy bunting skittered off before I could do anything. I even saw its reflection from the dining room window but was not quick enough to snap a shot.

I was determined to capture some video, so I put my handicam on the back porch, started recording, and took a shower. And, yes, while you might have a hard time seeing it, the bird enjoying our birdseed is, indeed, a painted bunting! I went through all thirty minutes of my recording and what follows are the highlights of our little flock, mostly old familiar friends, feeding on the coldest day of the year . . . so far!

Male Painted Bunting
Mr. Bunting shows up below the feeder about 20 seconds into the clip. A few seconds later, he lands on the feeder. You mainly see his red chest and blue head. When he turns to the left, you can see a bit of green on the back of his neck. He is eating up millet seed with gusto! (On my computer, I put the video on full screen so I could make out the colors, albeit blurry.)

Male Painted Bunting and a Loud Thwack
I ended up with a total of four minutes showing the bunting eating. In this video, he shifts to the other side, and you can see the green on the back of his head. The wind picks up and startles him. He flies off and that loud thwack is him hitting the siding of our house! He did fly away, so I hope he is okay now!

Lone Carolina Chickadee

Chipping Sparrow Flock

Cardinal Joins the Chipping Sparrows

If you think that this was plenty of excitement for one day, then you are dead wrong! The cold weather must bring out extremely desparate behavior in birds, and my next post is even more shocking!

Monday, January 12, 2009

Never Bleach Your Hose!

We live in a MESSIER world! Today I learned that bleaching your hose turns them the color of a pumpkin. I guess I can save them for Halloween because orange is not my color! In early December, my Dell laptop kept unseating its hard drive, even when we gingerly treated it like a desktop. I grew so tired of dealing with it, I gave it the silent treatment for a month before finally sending it off the Dell spa in Houston, where I hope they will teach it to be in a better mood. And, I keep wondering what is more resilient in a MESSIER world, a Mac or a PC?

MESSIER stands for Multiple, Ever-changing, Simultaneous, Surprising, Imperfect, Emotional and Relative in lingua RDI (NOTE: scroll down to Clip #205 and watch the video once you register, which is free.) All of us have to learn to fly by the seat of our pants when dealing with inevitable and ever-changing problems. RDI, which is based upon a guided participation model of parenting, teaches parents resiliency so that they can guide their children in learning that trait. Last weekend, my consultant brainstormed with her local families at a meeting and they came up with a list of qualities that describe a good guide. First on the list was resilient:
Resilient: They know that there is no specific number of exposures to the concept that they are teaching that will determine competency in their apprentice. Some concepts will come quickly and easily, and others will require many more exposures than expected ("On the 10,000th try, there was light." –Thomas Edison). A good guide sticks with it and does not give up.
Last week, we experienced two examples of Pamela, Steve, and I learning to be resilient. On Saturday (January 3), we bought a new kitchen table and I envisioned how to work the experience into our whole-part thinking. While Pamela was playing on the computer and tuned out of what was happening in the kitchen, we took the old table to the curb. I set up everything and called Pamela. We walked to the door and looked outside. We identified the known and unknown part of the story (where the old table was and what might be in the kitchen).

Then, a calamity happened. At least, that is what Pamela would call it. While I was setting up the kitchen with the camera and turning on the lights, Pamela flipped on the television and noticed ETV was acting up. She had a nasty tantrum (about ten minutes), and I worked very hard to calm her. When she was collected enough to process it, we did some spontaneous whole-part thinking about the persnickety PBS station. I made sure to introduce the whole as "ETV gets better" because I thought it would be easier for her to handle "when?" as the unknown (not if!).

While I did get her back on track with the table known-unknown, she had lost the joy in it, was still worried about ETV, but managed to play along with me quite forelornly. When we got back to the office, she turned on the television and found out that all was well with ETV.

The Tables and ETV

When I posted earlier in the month about Baby Alive's gifts, little did I know that the Big Comfy Couch care package would generate so much excitement. Pamela requested the Loonette doll (the known part of the story) but had no idea about Loonette's doll Molly and the autograph (the unknown). Last Monday morning (January 5) when we recorded more whole-part thinking, I could tell Pamela was very excited so I thought it prudent to talk about that emotion and preview it a bit. We agreed to open the presents when Steve came to home that night. That night, Pamela's excitement was so intense, she could not take it! She could only tolerate peeking at one gift at a time and running from the room! We tried to talk to about it several times but she said, "In prison," which means she felt trapped. The next day, she managed to tell us that she would be able to discuss it in a week . . .

Baby Alive's Gifts

The most exciting moment for us was later that night. In the heat of the moment of intense joy, we told Pamela she was too excited but we never acted negatively or came down on her. Before she headed to bed, Pamela must have been thinking about what we were thinking about her. She must have felt bad for running off so much. Why? Pamela told us, "I'm not bad. Excited, not bad." Steve smiled and said that he loved her and gave her a big hug and kiss. I smiled and reassured her that I was proud because it is very hard to control excitement.

We have come full circle with Pamela in her intense reactions over presents. When she was six months old, we bought a nifty rattle for her. Steve pulled it out of the box, and Pamela freaked out! She cried and cried like he was handling a viper. He promptly put the rattle away. We pulled it out for her a month later, and she was better able to handle her excitement long enough to play with the toy.

P.S. We have patiently waited a week. While we have observed Pamela sneaking peeks at her gifts, she is still to excited to pull them out of the boxes!

Monday, January 05, 2009

The Rest of the Story

I talked to my consultant about an issue that we would like to address, and I thought it might be a separate objective from the "I don't know" work we have been doing. Basically, Pamela half-hears a conversation on the phone or from another room and then yells loudly "You're not sick!" if she hears the word "cold." It does not matter whether the person said, "I feel cold" or "the weather is cold" or "Billy Bob got over his cold." She has certain trigger words and, when she hears them, she overreacts in a high-pitched mini-rant. After my consultant gathered together more details, she helped me see that this issue fits in perfectly with our "I don't know" work. Only, I didn't know it! LOL!

Up until now, we were working on helping Pamela feel comfortable with times in which she feels uncertain. Now, we are taking it to another level: sometimes, we only hear part of a story and, instead of overreacting, we can choose a different option: read the faces of other people to see if they are calm, reflect on past experiences, wait and listen for more information, wait and ask a question, etc. If she learns to do this, she might recognize that hearing the word "cold" is only part of the story and she might pause and reflect before going into red alert.

When I begin thinking about how to teach this, I realized it is not much different from the "whole-part" thinking we do for addition and subtraction word problems in our math curriculum, Making Math Meaningful. The key is to find neutral situations that are not triggers for red alert and to slow down the moment around which we discuss whole-part thinking. The video of our shopping trip will make this much clearer. Pamela knew what was on her list and how much money she had. She did not know what was on my shopping list nor how much money I planned to spend.

A couple of things on the video caught my attention. Pamela has a hard time focusing on my nonverbals in an overstimulating environment like Walmart! She and I normally walk rapidly through the store, but she slowed down very nicely behind a woman taking her sweet time. Pamela referenced me when she was not quite sure of what to do during checkout. (And, don't you love how well she does at checkout!)

Thursday, January 01, 2009

I Was Blind But Now I See

Happy Year of the Ox, Common Year Starting on Thursday (what Pamela calls today)!

I went to bed last night praying about the food fight between Time Warner Cable and Viacom. Yes, praying! Can you imagine how early in the morning Pamela would have woken us up if Noggin and Nickelodeon were not on the air? I came downstairs at about eight in the morning and spotted her happily watching Blues Clues. She had no idea of the bullet we all dodged. Ignorance is truly bliss. I smiled and told her, "Pamela, prayer works!" She had no clue about what I was saying, and I gladly left her in ignorance . . .

Today, I saw Pamela playing with a white handkerchief. In this photograph, she had wrapped up some plastic toys in it and shook it to hear the sound. The video below shows the other things she did with it, including pretending to be a blind person who was quickly healed.

This week, several things happened that have confirmed Pamela on making progress through RDI.
  • Two elementary-school aged boys hang out at our house whenever they visit their grandmother. Today, they suddenly made comments about Pamela out of the blue:

    "Miss Tammy. Pamela's not as shy as she was."

    "Yeah, she's more friendly now."

    "She never talked to us before, but now she does."
  • Last night, we hung out at my parent's house. A couple there had not seen Pamela since last February. After Pamela and Steve went home (they are the early birds in the family), the wife told me that she could see definite progress in how Pamela related to us.
  • Two days ago, my neighbors and I fell into a conversation. Pamela came up to me to ask where Steve was (he was making his visitation rounds in the neighborhood). During the course of this conversation, Pamela did things like pay attention to my face, shift attention from me to the neighbors when they spoke, nodded and pointed, followed my eye gaze and point, hugged them good-bye, etc. They were very impressed by everything Pamela was able to do spontaneously without an adult prompting her.
Lately, we are seeing things that make me think of a three-year-old:
  • Pamela never went through the "why" phase of development. I have been waiting for sixteen years to hear questions like "why" and "how come"! When I ask her why, I crack up when she says, "Because I said so!" While most parents are annoyed by this, especially getting questioned after telling a child "no", I feel like cracking open a bottle of champagne every time I hear those magical words . . .
  • Pamela wants to share things with us. It is not enough to discover something (like magic) or be healed from blindness, she has to share it with us. Even if I am in another room, she will find me and say, "I did it." And, many times when I ask what she did, Pamela is able to explain it to me . . . more champagne moments (and I bet I drink less than a bottle of any form of alcohol a year).
  • Pamela is much more able to have impromptu, spontaneous conversations without me acting as a translator. Often, I can step back and let her do what she knows to do with minimal explanation.
  • Pamela thinks of her babies as members of the family. The only gifts she requested for herself were presents for her baby: a Loonette doll (from The Big Comfy Couch) for Baby Alive and a Duplo Thomas Starter Set for Baby David. Pamela sprung this on me before Christmas but the doll is hard to snag and I finally won an auction right before Christimas. The Duplo set is out of stock and will not arrive for a few weeks. Pamela was delighted that we ordered them and is patiently waiting for the surprises for her babies to arrive in the mail!