Monday, December 12, 2011

Dancing Queens (or not)

Saturday morning Morgan and Piper had their first dance recital! We were so excited, but apprehensive as well. We have one "dancer" with autism and the other is technically too young for the class she's in. Anything could happen, right?

Morgan loved being on the stage so much it was hard to keep her off of it. In fact she broke away from us just as the teacher/director, Miss Michelle, was welcoming everyone and introducing the first dancers. Morgan ran right on the stage and David had to catch her halfway across. I'm sure the audience thought it was funny, but we were sweating it backstage wondering how this would all go.

Here's Piper's first performance:

Yes, we are "that" family, with "those" kids.

She ran right to me when she exited the stage. I tried to get her to go back out once, but then she just sat in my lap and watched. When they finished she clapped and said "again!" Sorry, not so much Piper.

And we will not be showing you her second "performance"... as she did manage to sit in the stage... in her spot... the entire time... but did not move. Hmmm. She did go out at the end for the finale, but ended up crying and her sweet teacher managed to mostly calm her down until I came and got her. Well, we knew she was the youngest. We'll be curious to see how she does at the next performance. Really, I didn't have high expectations for this and was just glad she got to be there. Everyone commented on how cute she is though!

As for Morgan, check this out:

She turned in TWO, yes TWO amazing performances! Really! She ran out there and went right to her spot and danced with all the other girls. It was backstage that was tough. She did not want to hang out and wait her turn to dance. She finally interacted a little with the other girls, but she mostly demanded to go find Miss Michelle, or go potty, go home or go on stage. This involved a lot of tag-team running after little girls. Exhausting.

Oh, and Morgan capped the show off in and interesting way. We were in the wings wait to go on for the finale and we heard some little pops coming from her. Usually she just says "I tooted" and laughs. This time she persistently tried to get her teacher's attention... "Miss Michelle! I tooted!" Again and again. Luckily Miss Michelle was too busy herding girls onto the stage to notice.

Whew! We are constantly amazed at what Morgan can do when she wants to...but that's the trick, the motivation. It's a constant juggling of pushing her limits as well as giving her space and allowing her to be in her comfort zone. I think it works this way with most young kids, but with the ones on the autism spectrum we have to deal with the extremes.

Overall we are so proud of both girls. They will learn and grow from these experiences their own ways.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

The Nutcracker

I had the privilege of escorting my Morgan to a performance of the Nutcracker this year. I considered it last year, but ruled it out pretty quickly. I wasn't even sure she was ready this year, but after discussing it with David we decided to give it a go. Morgan loves her dance classes so much and I wondered if she could make the connection between her classes and the dancers on stage. Here's how the evening went:

The ballet was performed at the Fox Theatre in downtown Spokane. It is a beautiful art deco building which was restored just a few years ago. We made our way in through the crowd and found our seats. They were perfect for us. In the first section of the balcony right on the aisle and next to the exit. This came in handy as Morgan had to use the potty once during each Act. We also wanted to make sure we had a quick escape route if a meltdown ensued. If you noticed, in the picture above, Morgan has a pink weighted lap pad across her legs. Her teacher was kind enough to loan it to us. She uses it at school during her circle time to help her sit with less wiggling. It worked great!

Here's Morgan checking everything out while I was trying to get her to smile. The theatre also has "booster seats" for kids. How genius?! They are a couple of inches of foam upholstered in the same material as the seats. It give the kids a bit of a lift while helping to keep the folding seats from popping up.

Unbelievably she made it through the whole performance! She really seemed genuinely interested in watching what was happening on stage. I explained the story as we went along. I'm not sure how much she "got", but she definitely listened. I think the best part for me what just being there with her. Occasionally she would want to hold my hand or put her hand on my leg. She loved when everyone clapped after the groups of "sweets" performed (bon bons, spanish chocolate, etc.) and joined right in. She got a little fidgety at the end and I knew she was really tired...the performance started when we usually start our bedtime routine. She handled it well though.

This is the best shot I could get with one of the Nutcrackers in the lobby. There were a ton of people standing around after the performance and she was fascinated with it all. Once we got back to the car she told me "I want to see Christmas lights and Tinker Bell and have lunch!" But before we got out of the parking garage, I saw this:

Out for the count. We had a great night. Oddly enough she does not talk about it and does not respond much when asked. David's theory for this right now is that, for now, we need to live in the moment with Morgan and just have a good time. She currently does not draw on these kind of experiences for future use or reflection...but we hope that comes with time. We might be surprised one day when she says something about the evening or the dancers. We would like to make this a tradition and will bring Piper too in a few years. It's the perfect Mommy-Daughter date night.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Happy Birthday Morgan!

Hey Pretty Girl! You are four years old today! We love you so much. You give us joy and challenge us so many ways each day...some are tough, some are to be expected. Your sister adores you and you love her more than we imagined. You have given us new perspective on life and make us think about what really is "normal." We love that you love the color orange and you wake up requesting "dance class" every morning (though always have a fit if you hear "it is not Friday yet). Though it may not be every day, but we promise you will always have you "dinosaur sandwiches."

Hugs and kisses our Boo Boo Girl!