Still Playing School: February 2012

What Might Have Been

By Devany LeDrew | Labels: 3 Comments
Sometimes the sadness creeps in, a secret weapon that travels on memories. Today it was in the form of this Laurie Berkner video which came on Nick Jr:

When I was pregnant with V, before we knew who she was, I imagined her to be a boy because my pregnancy was just SO different than my one with E. While listening to this song I planned on taking a picture of the baby at a day old, two days old, etc. and posting them with captions using the lyrics of this song.
"I'm sitting here, I'm one day old."
"I'm getting tired, I'm two days old."

NEVER in a million years did I imagine how some of the lyrics wouldn't apply. "One day, I'll be a year, then I'll be two, then three, then four." No. Not this baby. There will be no pictures beyond 2 days old.

When they announced V was a girl, I immediately imagined her in E's clothes. Then there were visions of the girls in each other's weddings. Instead of paying attention to why they mentioned her sex so quickly, but were taking so long measuring her heart and brain, my mind was flooded with daydreams of their futures. TWO girls. SISTERS so close in age. Fighting over boys, sleep overs, braiding hair, whispering.

Nothing is more gut wrenching then reflecting back at my naivety and thinking of how I was so, so wrong.
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Introducing Play & Learn Classes!

When we hosted our snowman play date back in January, we had so much fun.  I kept wishing our house was large enough to invite all our friends and their parents.

This lead to some brainstorming with Carol Anne Friesen.  I am so excited to announce my partnership with her!  Ever since we took E to a Baby Signs Workshop when she was 6 months old, I have been inspired by Carol Anne's passion for early childhood education and her contagious enthusiasm!  I always dreamed we would work together in some capacity.  Carol Anne has opened my eyes to how I can use my degree and certification in Early Childhood Education while still keeping my job as a stay-at-home mom as my first priority for right now.  I am so thrilled to be throwing myself into this new teaching adventure!

Introducing … Play & Learn Classes:
Explore and experience art, literacy, science, math and sensory activities with your child at our themed classes!  Enjoy watching your child’s face light up as they discover new concepts and create with their imaginations. Parents and care givers interact with their children at engaging and developmentally appropriate learning centers.  Leave the planning, preparations, and clean up to us!   

Ages: 18 months - 4 years old
Class size is limited to 12 children. Location: Palmyra, PA
Total Tuition and Materials: $10 which includes art materials, parent information handout, and a one hour visit (following class) to our Stay & Play Cafe!
Currently enrolled Kindermusik students $8, all siblings 50% off!

Play & Learn Class Day and Time: Tuesday, March 13th 9:15 to 10:00
Class theme: St. Patrick’s Day/Rainbows

Play & Learn Class Day and Time: Wednesday, April 18th 9:15 to 10:00
Class theme: Earth Day

Play & Learn Class Day and Time: Tuesday, May 15th 9:15 to 10:00
Class theme: Insects

Register for 2 or more classes and take advantage of our introductory offer!  $1 off per child per class! To enroll or for more information please email me!
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The Meaning Behind Still Playing School

By Devany LeDrew | Labels: Be the first to comment!
Day 2: The meaning behind your blog name

When I was little, we used to play school in my basement.  I had a big chalkboard on the wall and desks for my two students, who were by younger brother and my dad.  My dad would purposely spell words wrong on tests and generally be a not-so-great student.  As I grew up to become a kindergarten teacher, I joked that he prepared me for the really difficult students by increasing my patience at my first teaching job.

"Still Playing School" has two meanings.  One is that I am still playing school, but now with E instead of my dad and brother.  The other meaning is to point out how even when we are still playing, we are learning.  I am playing (or experimenting) with my role as her mother and first teacher.  She is playing as she engages in the activities I set before her with educational purposes in mind.  

We have so much fun together.  She's not as difficult as Gramps was as a student, or at least she isn't yet.
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15 Facts about Me

By Devany LeDrew | Labels: , , 1 Comment
My friend Heather started blogging.  We talked a few months ago about working together to write through our grief so I am thrilled to have her beside me in the blogging world as she is one of the most inspirational people I know.

I am going to participate in the blog challenge with her and I'd love it if you would, too.  I'm even looking at you, Jamie.  I'm going to do the challenge on days when I have no topic materializing.

Day 1: A recent picture and 15 interesting facts about yourself.

1. I'm obsessed with Abraham Lincoln.  I've always loved him, but several years ago we used his birthday as an celebratory excuse to go out for dinner with my in-laws.  We had such a ridiculously fun time that we made this an annual event.  Now, Lincoln is also an inspiration as a bereaved parent.   "Since Willie's death, I catch myself every day, involuntarily talking with him, as if he were with me".

2.  When I was a child, I would spend summers reading in a hammock and winters curled up on my dad's recliner with a book.  It's my favorite hobby.

3.  I love where I live.  I grew up in western Pennsylvania and I now live in south central PA but even that small move placed me in a different planting zone.  When I moved to this part of the state, I immediately fell in love with the town we reside in now.  Our neighborhood is perfect for us, with a great mix of people, two of whom I've gotten closer to recently.   One of which is probably reading this right now and needs to use this blog challenge to start blogging herself (Hi, Julia!).  Our back yard has a beautiful creek running through it with a walking trail along it.  

4.  I garden, but I am only really inspired to grow things we can eat.

5.  My husband took my daughter out for the day today.  Being home alone right now seems ridiculously indulgent.

6.  My friendships have been either solidified or broken because of what we've gone through this past year.  It's a welcomed side effect of the grief.  Friends become acquaintances and acquaintances become friends.

7.  I have recently thought about making friendship bracelets for those who have really stood by me.  I want to make them with clasps so I can take mine on and off (I'll make matching ones for myself and the person I give them to) and I don't even care if the other person wears his/hers.  It's just a way for me to feel connected daily to the people in my life who have amazed me with their support.

8.  Jewelry has been a huge way for me to deal with my grief.  Wearing something that represents V allows me to silently, yet physically carry her with me and put evidence of her out there in a way that people might inquire if interested.  E knows which pieces I wear for V and touches them gently while saying, "baby Vi." She got her own "baby Vi" bracelet the other day when our fundraising wristbands arrived!  

9.  I love asian inspired cooking and sushi.  I've started trying to make more of the recipes I love here at home.  Sesame noodles have been a weekly meal lately.  

10.  My favorite blogs are Swistle, Amalah, Mamapundit, and The Spohrs are Multiplying.  Leave me a comment with your favorites.

11.  I'm trying to figure out Twitter.  I don't really like it so far.

12.  I love reality tv.  The more mindless, the better.

13.  My husband is truly my best friend.  He is hilarious, smart, resourceful, loving, kind, quirky, totally handsome, and all mine.  I don't understand how I got so fortunate when it comes to him.

14.  We are currently doing home improvements.  We recently converted 2/3 of our finished basement into a play room for E after we replaced the flooring and painted.  We got new blinds for the living room.  I started this project in the kitchen.  Can't stop!

15.  I miss my family.  I'm glad we are going to see them next weekend.

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By Devany LeDrew | Labels: , 4 Comments
I just read this article via a friend's share on Facebook.  In it, Rick Santorum's opinions of prenatal testing and the funding of such tests are brought into question. I am shaking right now because I am so opposed to his views. A commenter says that USA Today reports that Santorum objected to including some prenatal tests in federal insurance mandates, saying the tests lead to more abortions.

"A lot of prenatal tests are done to identify deformities in utero, and the customary procedure is to encourage abortions," he said. "We know that 90% of Down syndrome children in America are aborted." At a campaign event over the weekend in Columbus, Ohio, he said the tests effectively "cull the ranks of the disabled in our society."

My views on abortion have been vastly colored by my pregnancy and choice to carry V to term.  I was always pro-choice, because I don't feel that it's my right to tell someone else what they can or cannot do with their own body.  That being said, I wouldn't, couldn't, and didn't choose to "terminate" V when presented with that option even when all the medical professionals told us she was "incompatible with life" and described in detail what it would look like as she died in our arms.  Mr. Santorum, they STILL never suggested we should abort, so you are WRONG.  But now that I think of all the other families in our situation, I FIRMLY believe that terminations should be allowed, whether a mother's life is in danger or not, because the emotional pain we endured in grieving V before she was gone was TORTURE.  It was our choice, I don't regret it for a second,I would do it all over again, but would I have survived psychologically if I didn't have the support of my amazing husband, family, and friends?  No.

But let's cast aside the whole abortion debate for a minute.  Santorum is saying that our insurance, which was not cushy to any stretch of the imagination, should have the choice to DENY the testing we had done to discover V's diagnosis because it MIGHT make us choose to abort.  Yeah, it may have.  Can I tell you what it did instead?  It allowed me to line up to have photographers on hand to record our precious days with V and E together, the only ones we'll ever have as a complete family.  Ultrasounds warned us to prepare our families for the worst.  An amnio prompted my friends to rally around me and support us in ways I didn't even dream imaginable.  A visit with a pediatric cardiologist laid out exactly how much time, at most, we could expect with V.  Definitive pre-natal testing gave us the strength, the time, the courage, the resources, and the hope that we could wrap our heads and hearts around this tragedy and survive it, even if V couldn't.

As a fellow trisomy parent, I am ashamed of Santorum's views.  Unfortunately, not all of us are as lucky as the Santorums have been regarding their daughter Bella who has Trisomy 18.  We don't all get years with our babies.  Some of us get days, hours, minutes.  We deserve the right to know an accurate 100% diagnosis of our babies in utero when available so that we can prepare for our time with them, no matter how brief.
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Tutu's Super Crispy Sugar Cookies

By Devany LeDrew | Labels: Be the first to comment!
My sister-in-law made Grandma Tutu's Super Crispy Sugar Cookies last weekend.  We all agreed they were one of the most delicious cookies we've ever had.  I would even say they are in my top 3 best cookies of all time, with the almond cookies from the Greek Fest and the orange cookies my mom makes.

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2012 Goals

By Devany LeDrew | Labels: 2 Comments
These were my 20 goals for 2011.  The following are my goals for 2012.  Pinterest helps a LOT.

1.  Be a better friend.
a.) Listen.
b.) Be selective about who I allow to make up my circle of friends.
c.) Show those who I choose that they are special  regularly.

2. Participate in Kindermusik's Play Dates with Seniors at the local nursing home.
a.) Potentially "adopt" a grandparent.

3. Stretch daily and continue to go to the gym.
a.) Remember NOT to step on the scale.  My focus is on over all health and the stress release of the work out.
b.) Seriously, STRETCH DAILY.

4.  Try 20 recipes from Pinterest.
a.) Cook more with quinoa.

5.  Keep/start writing.
a.)  BLOG
b.) Fiction writing with Kathi?

6.  Plant and maintain a garden.
a.) Garden with Julia.
b.) Salad tables.

7.  Make and try homemade liquid laundry soap (with Alisha).

8.  Seriously consider selling Scentsy.

9.  Get hair professionally cut at least once.

11.  Make shade out of mini-blind for our bathroom.

12.  Get more family photos framed and hung around the house.

13.  Donate items to a local pet shelter.  
a.) Consider volunteering in some way if it works with our schedule.

14.  Take E to spend several days with my parents (without us there).

15.  Create more photo books
a.) Recipe book with my mother-in-law.
b.) Finish E's first year book.
c.) Make one for V.
d.) Plan how to organize these moving forward (by calendar year?  by event?)

16.  Sew.
a.) Stop being intimidated.
b.) Find a sewing mentor.
c.) Try to complete 5 simple machine sewn projects.

17.  Visit friends/family in Pittsburgh.

18.  Visit friends in Connecticut.

19. Complete fabric project for kitchen.

20.  Honor Violet's memory.
a.) Zumba Fitness Class.
b.) Wristbands.
c.) Being an active part of bereaved parent community.
d.) Tattoo.

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Grief is Sneaky

By Devany LeDrew | Labels: 3 Comments
Today I wish anything mattered.
This ache in my heart is too large.
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Pinterest Overview

By Devany LeDrew | Labels: 2 Comments

I've had several friends and family members ask me how to use Pinterest.  I have jokingly offered to hold workshops since it is one of my latest addictions.  Instead, in all seriousness, I will attempt to give you an overview of Pinterest here.

Pinterest is a virtual bulletin board.  Have you ever bookmarked an idea you found on the internet, like a recipe or a craft tutorial? Once you needed the bookmark you would have to sort through a list of URLs to find the one you wanted.  Instead, by using Pinterest, you can bookmark websites using images and organize them into boards by category.  Above you can see I have preschool, baby, food, and much more!

Here is a summary of my Preschool board, where I pin ideas that I would like to do with E or while teaching.  I also pin my own ideas from my blog here to share with others on Pinterest.  I'm a visual person so seeing pictures of what I have pinned reminds me of what I intended to cook, create, or do.

When you go into one of my boards, each idea/bookmark has an image, a short description, and the website address where if came from.  If you click on the image, it will take you back to the website that originally posted the image.

There is so much more I could talk about:  how to get started on Pinterest, how to organize your boards, how to create new pins for ideas you find online, how to navigate and browse Pinterest for new ideas, how to draw more traffic to your own blog using Pinterest.  Please leave me a comment letting me know if there is interest in me writitng more about Pinterest here!
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Valentine's Day Play Date

A Valentine's Day play date was hosted by my very brave friend Megan!  We met about 6 years ago when working together in an early childhood education center.  Now we are both stay-at-home moms who get together regularly so our toddlers can play and create together while we recharge.
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Toddler Kitchen Practice

By Devany LeDrew | Labels: , , 4 Comments
This is when I admit that I allow my two year old to use a knife to chop fruits and vegetables and you unsubscribe.  But wait!  I can explain, er justify.

The foods are soft.  The knife is dull.  This is a great task to practice fine motor skills.  She eats better when she takes ownership and pride in the foods prepared because she helped to cook them.

We had baked potatoes for dinner the other night.  I took the left overs out to chop and pan fry for lunch today.  E is standing in her Kitchen Helper.  This is something I lusted after since she first started helping me cook.  We considered trying to make a DIY version, but in the end we just bought one and it has been worth every. single. penny.  She uses it multiple times daily.  

After some exploration, I cut slices for her to chop.

While the potatoes were frying, we moved on to strawberries.

Those were more tempting to just bite.
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E's First Dentist Visit

By Devany LeDrew | Labels: 1 Comment
Our dentist recommended that we bring E in when she was 2 1/2 or 3, but since she LOVED her 2 year check up at the pediatrician (she ASKED for her shots) I figured we better just go now while she is interested and open to doctors.  Plus it's dental health month, which is a total coincidence.

Here she is showing her teeth to everyone in the waiting room.

She had fun playing in the kids' room (even though the sign on the door said "kid's room" and irritated me, though technically it was correct while she was the only one in there, she is not the only owner of the room, ahem, okay I'm done) while we waited for our turn.  I had fun listening to a slightly older child discuss baby teeth, big boy teeth, the tooth fairy, and the going rate for a tooth with his mother.

When they called us back, they had me sit in the chair with E laying back on me in my lap.  She had pink, blinged out Snooki-sized sunglasses to wear so she was in her glory.

She was a champ during the brushing, exam, flossing, and fluoride treatment.  She couldn't spit yet, but we'll work on it.

They have token bubble gum machines that give the kids prizes.  She left with two princess stickers, a new pink toothbrush, a temporary tattoo, and a rubber duck covered in hearts.  All in all, a successful first dental visit!

E's age: 25 months
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Guest Posting at Small Bird Studios

By Devany LeDrew | Labels: , , 1 Comment

I'm guest blogging a tutorial on needle felting today at Small Bird Studios!
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Small Gestures, Lasting Impacts

A friend taught us to make heart shaped crayon valentines!  She suggested we use mostly shades of violet for a subtle, crafty way to remember our sweet girl on this holiday.  I love the result.
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