Blogging about life in Minnesota, raising our six kids with Down syndrome while battling Breast Cancer.

Be the kind of woman that when your feet hit the floor in the morning the devil says, "Oh shit! She's up!"

Monday, December 31, 2007

A series of unfortunate events

Last night Dean and his son Aaron were in the basement watching the football game, while Angela and I were watching her favorite episode of John and Kate Plus 8. (I still can't decide if I like that show, but am drawn to watching it cuz of the cute kids. LOL And I was only 1/2 watching 1/2 dozing on the couch)

Suddenly the screen went black.

Angela looked at me with a with huge wide eyes, "MOOooooom! FIX IT!" While at the same time there was hollering coming from the basement, "What's wrong with the TV?"

I like how everyone yells at ME like I magically caused all the TV's in the house to stop working. Wish I could work that magic with other things...like laundry. Turns out our cable went down, which means no internet or phone either. Dean called the cable company to report the outage, who said we were the only ones out so they could send someone on Tuesday. TUESDAY????? You gotta be kidding? That's forever away. We begged for Monday and eventually got them to commit to that.

But, we have DVR so Angela and I turned on Ratatoulli which I had recorded earlier in the day, while Dean and Aaron played a couple games of pool. That ended, Angela went to bed, so we 3 big people sat down to watch some totally unwholesome "Two and a half men" episodes I had recorded. We were were 1/2 way through our second episode when the DVR went out too.

NOW what do we do? I instinctively went to the computer to check my boards and my email, only to be met with the "can't connect" screen. GAH! Here it was only 8:30 and there were no functioning electronics in the house. Ahh...but wait! We could watch a DVD, so Aaron chose "The Ringer". When that was done Dean was snoring on the couch and Aaron wasn't comfortable staring at me so we all went to bed.

This morning Dean got up at 4:30 for work, and discovered no hot water. Turns out the hot water heater cord had somehow found it's way to water (you know that drain hose that comes from somewhere indefinable? It got moved and so the cord was in water) which blew the breaker, and the cable modem is on that same one. So all this suffering we did unnecessarily! Well, and I'll have to call the cable company to cancel the visit we begged for. LOL

Lesson learned: We are far too connected to our computer and TV. This is not news to me, but it's sure slap in the face when something happens to it. Only a couple hours and we hardly knew what to do with ourselves! We don't even OWN any board games, and I couldn't find a deck of cards. There was apple pie though. Had some of that.

Saturday, December 29, 2007

She's coming home!!!

You may remember this post about Bringing Sasha Home
I'm thrilled to tell you that they have a travel date!!!! Their date for court in Aleksa's country is January 21st. Both Mom and Dad will need to be there for a couple weeks, but Mom will need to stay for several weeks. Aleksa should be home the end of February! HOORAY!!! Please keep their entire family in your prayers as they go through the difficult leg of this journey, being away from their other kids! Please pray for smooth court proceedings in Eastern Europe, safe travel at each leg of the trip, and for Auntie Elizabeth who will be caring for the kids while they're gone. And really, I want to say a special prayer for GOOD HEALTH for everyone involved!

And one more thing. Please, if you have it in your heart to contribute to Aleksa's adoption costs, you can do so by visiting her page at Reese's Rainbow

When families have to say goodbye

A Friend of mine Renee at "Life With My Special K's" had to do something yesterday that most of us would not have the strength to do. To send her husband off to Afghanistan for his 3rd deployment. Ok, lots of families do this, I know. But their family has a little extra on their plate compared to many other families. Please make the trip over to their blog, and say a prayer for Frank's safe return...first in May for their daughter's Make A Wish trip (3 year old Kennedy has Down Syndrome and Acute Myelogenous Leukemia ) and then again for him to return safely in March 2009. I'm sure that seems forever away for this family.

Friday, December 28, 2007

My Dogs Live Here


A friend sent this to me today. I think it's perfect, and explains something we experience on almost a daily basis that REALLY bugs us.
.........................







My Dogs Live Here....


My dogs live here, they're here to stay.
You don't like pets? Be on your way.
They share my home, my food, my space.
This is their home, this is their place.

You will find dog hair on the floor,
They will alert you're at the door.
They may request a little pat,
A simple "NO" will settle that.

It gripes me when I hear you say,
"Just how is it you live this way?
They smell, they shed, they're in the way."
WHO ASKED YOU? is all I can say.

They love me more than anyone.
My voice is like the rising sun,
They merely have to hear me say,
"C'mon, time to go and play."

Then tails wag and faces grin,
They bounce and hop and make a din.
They never say, "No time for you,"
They're always there, to GO and DO.

And if I'm sad, they're by my side.
And if I'm mad, they circle wide.
And if I laugh, they laugh with me.
They understand, they always see.

So, once again, I say to you,
"Come visit me," but know this too...

My dogs live here, they're here to stay.
You don't like pets? Be on your way.
They share my home, my food, my space.
This is their home, this is their place.


- Author Unknown

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Cool torture device for teens

Ok, I'll admit, I was at a loss what to give my boys (Noah 20, Tyler 19) for Christmas. Aside from the clothes they both need but don't want, I really had no clue what to get. What does one do when they're at a loss? Well, Google of course!

So I googled "gifts for teens" which brought me to findgift.com where I found a couple different things, but the one that caught my eye was probably the strangest gift a parent could ever give. I had to have it.



In this game there are 4 joysticks. (the name joystick is quite funny, given the nature of this game.) You can set the game 2-4 players. Each person removes their joystick from the base and hold on to it, holding their thumb just above the red button at the top. DON'T TOUCH IT THOUGH! At least...not yet.

In the middle of the base unit is the start button. Pushing it causes it to flash red for several seconds, then suddenly turn green. When it turns green it's a race as to who can push their joystick button the fastest. The last one to push gets a shock. (The level of shock can be preset before the game.)

I know, I gave a torture device to my kids for Christmas. But really..they had a BLAST with it. And, if there were a group of adults looking for an entertaining drinking game, this one would make a great shot game! LOL

There was another game that I also ordered, similar, but only two players. Here's the description: " Do you think you can really handle this? Each player will receive a very low and short electric shock through the handles and the red lights will flash... The shock will then start again this time longer and more powerful! Winner is the last fool still holding the handle!"

Do you think this will win me the "Mother of the Year" award?



So, just so you can see how the game is played, here is a lovely video of our family Christmas. Notice that the teens have decided putting it on the highest setting AND holding TWO joysticks at one time would be a smart idea. (NOT!) In all seriousness, these ARE great gifts for adolescent - young adult boys. (shhhhh the adult men thought it was kinda fun too!) *disclaimer* the shock does NOT HURT! It's like strong static electricity that feels VERY strange. Much like the hand buzzers we had as kids.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

New years GOALS!

I don't like the word "resolution". It always sounds to me like you're FORCING yourself to do something you didn't really want to do. I'm NOT choosing to set a goal of weight loss. I mean, I am, but...well to explain it I probably won't make sense.

I do have a couple of goals for this year though. First of all, I want to get back to playing racquetball. When I divorced I went out and bought all new equipment and hooked up with some other players. If felt good to get back into the game. Even my deadly "Z" serve came back! Then I met Dean who doesn't play. I quickly got wrapped up in this great guy and let my game go. It's time to get back! It's an excellent workout and something that I desperately need.

My second goal is the Epic Journey I'm planning on making in June. I have this feeling I'll end up having to bow out, as some people in Angela's life aren't very reliable when it comes to caring for her when they say they're going to. This has caused me to cancel MAJOR plans on countless occasions over the past 6 years or so. But, I'm working on a back-up plan, just in case.

The third goal is to get my sidecar mounted and learn how to ride with it! To me this seems like a major undertaking, probably bigger than my two other goals put together. Getting this done will allow me to spend as much time as I want on my bike, as Angela can ride with me! So really this is two goals in one. ;-)

Ode to an Unknown Biker

But, You Didn't See Me

I saw you, hug your purse closer to you in the grocery store line. But, you didn't see me, put an extra $10.00 in the collection plate last Sunday. I saw you, pull your child closer when we passed each other on the sidewalk.But, you didn't see me, playing Santa at the local mall.

I saw you, change your mind about going into the restaurant. But, you didn't see me, attending a meeting to raise more money for the hurricane relief. I saw you, roll up your window and shake your head when I drove by.But, you didn't see me, driving behind you when you flicked your cigarette butt out the car window.

I saw you, frown at me when I smiled at your children.But, you didn't see me, when I took time off from work to run toys to the homeless. I saw you, stare at my long hair. But, you didn't see me, and my friends cut ten inches off for Locks of Love.

I saw you, roll your eyes at our leather coats and gloves. But, you didn't see me, and my brothers donate our old coats and gloves to those that had none. I saw you, look in fright at my tattoos. But, you didn't see me, cry as my children where born and have their name written over and in my heart.

I saw you, change lanes while rushing off to go somewhere. But, you didn't see me, going home to be with my family.
I saw you, complain about how loud and noisy our bikes can be. But, you didn't see me, when you were changing the CD and drifted into my lane.

I saw you, yelling at your kids in the car. But, you didn't see me, pat my child's hands, knowing he was safe behind me.I saw you, reading the newspaper or map as you drove down the road. But, you didn't see me, squeeze my wife's leg when she told me to take the next turn.

I saw you, race down the road in the rain. But, you didn't see me, get soaked to the skin so my son could have the car to go on his date. I saw you, run the yellow light just to save a few minutes of time. But, you didn't see me, trying to turn right.

I saw you, cut me off because you needed to be in the lane I was in. But, you didn't see me, leave the road. I saw you, waiting impatiently for my friends to pass. But, you didn't see me. I wasn't there.

I saw you, go home to your family. But, you didn't see me. Because, I died that day you cut me off. I was just a biker,......A person with friends and a family.

*note* I have no idea who wrote this. I dug around online only to find 3 or 4 different people taking credit for it.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Twas the Night of Christmas

You didn't really think I was going to write a poem type thing did you? Sorry, I'm not that clever!

We had a lovely Christmas! Saturday we drove the 4 (turned into 5 1/2) hours north to my parents home and celebrated Christmas with my family. This will be the 13th year of the same gift from them...a 5 day vacation at a resort up north near their home, with all of my siblings and their families in the neighboring cabins. This has by far been the best Christmas present ever given.

For the first 10 years of this tradition we stayed at the Ivanhoe Resort in Walker, MN. Sadly 3 years ago that resort sold and so we moved next door to the Shore Crest Resort instead. (which, by the way, is also for sale for a mere 2.5 million dollars.) Every year, starting at Christmas the kids would start making their plans for Ivanhoe Weekend. Even after the move to Shore Crest, it's still referred to as Ivanhoe Weekend. LOL There certainly couldn't be a better present than the memories created on our Ivanhoe Weekend!

Now that the hubub is done, Dean and I are enjoying a quiet, empty house to ourselves. In fact, we haven't moved out the couch all day!

Friday, December 21, 2007

12 Days of Christmas

This is a MUST WATCH! Don't let the beginning fool you! ENJOY!

Thursday, December 20, 2007

I'm IN!!!!

I have been dying to say something about this, but really afraid that I would jynx myself out of it! LOL

A couple months ago there was an ad running on 107.1 FM (a local women's radio station) about the FAB (Food Attitudes and Body) study being done at the University of Minnesota. I decided to call and get more information.

The study is actually a national weight loss study designed to determine the effectiveness of programs such as Jenny Craig. There are 400+ women in the study nation-wide, with sites in 4 places across the US, one being here in Minnesota.

There were several hundred people here in MN who responded to the call for study participants, but only those 100 or so women could get in. First we had to attend and orientation meeting where we were told the details of the program and what would be expected of us.

There are 3 different groups in the study with participants being randomly placed in each group. The first group would be put into the Jenny Craig Center program. These participants would receive 2 years of Jenny Craig food and do the weekly office visits with Jenny Craig staff. The second group would be put in the Jenny Craig Direct program, which is 2 years of food and weekly phone consults with the Jenny Craig staff. The third group would have monthly visits with the study dietician at the U. of M for the course of the two years.

At that meeting there were lots of questions about what the Jenny Craig food would be like, how strict it is, etc. Anyone who didn't like the sounds of the program didn't come back for the next step.

The next step was to come in for a visit with the study staff. We were given lots of forms to fill out about our eating habits and, I'm sure, to rule out a serious eating disorder. We also had to have blood work done to rule out things like thyroid disorders that would be cause for weight gain, and do a short fitness test to make sure we were physically able to participate in the study since part of it would require physical excercise. I went in for this visit a week ago and was told I'd hear on the 21st if I was in the study, AND which group I was in.

Last night I was in the shower, and I said to God, "Ok God, I know you'll put me in the group that is best suited for my needs, even if *I* don't think that's the group I should be in. You know me better than I do!"

Today they called, and informed me I'm in the Jenny Craig Center program. This is two years of Jenny Craig food free of charge, weekly visits with the Jenny Craig staff, and whatever else their program entails. I'm so excited! I might just be that hot biker chick of my dreams yet!!!!

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Who IS Santa anyway?

Well, that all depends upon which store you go to, and which volunteer group is running the show for the day!

This morning Dean and I were laying around in our jammies when I got this brilliant idea to take the dogs to Petsmart for a picture with Santa. We did this when Dudley (now 2 years old) was just a little puppy and it turned out really cute, so why not do it again? WHY? Because you should never think something will turn out the same a second time, that's why!

Did you know you can't just walk out the door with 3 dogs? No, first we had to discuss weather or not the dogs needed a bath. All we have to do is say the word "bath" and all three dogs disappear. There are some words we actually spell around the dogs. Words like "o-u-t-s-i-d-e" and "b-a-t-h" and "t-r-e-a-t". When Angela is here we have to spell entire sentences, such as "d-o...y-o-u...w-a-n-t....i-c-e-c-r-e-a-m..?" if we do this when Tyler or Noah are here the get this really confused look on their faces and beg us to please spell slower. So then we spell really fast, sentences like, "d-o...y-o-u...t-h-i-n-k...w-e...s-h-o-u-l-d....l-e-t...h-i-m...d-r-i-v-e?" If they can't figure it out they're just S-O-L.

Anyway, Rubee is always fine without a bath, though she's looking a little scraggly with her postpartum hair loss. I quickly brushed the last clumps of hair off her.

Zurri wasn't really dirty, but she definitely needed to be brushed out. She saw me coming with the brushes and quickly but quietly removed herself to the kennel for a private nap. In Zurri's mind, if she can't see us, certainly we can't find her. I bribed her out with treats and got her all brushed out. She still has her silly Seuss cut from the play, but she's a gorgeous dog anyway! I did have to trim her head so she could actually SEE for pictures.

Dudley, on the other hand, STINKS! His beard holds all kinds of smells, and God knows what bacteria. Still he is the best dog in the world. I called him over to get brushed and as usual he just laid down, exposed his belly to me as if to say, "Ok, fine, but I don't have to like it." I got him all brushed out and he looked handsome, but he still stunk. I really didn't feel like doing a dog bath AND getting him dry. Besides, it was 10:30 and Santa is only there till noon, and Dean and I still needed to get showered. Dudley, my boy, lucked out!

As we were getting ready to leave, Zurri was nowhere to be found. At least that's what SHE thought. Again, I called her out of the kennel and had to convince her we really were going for a FUN ride this time. Everyone went outside and peed on command (good doggies! No wonder our neighbors think we're weird.) and hopped in the truck. I wonder what people in the other cars think? Whenever we stop at a light or stop sign, here are 3 black noses pushed up against the glass (or 2 noses and Zurri's tongue licking the glass.) steaming up the windows so all you can see are their nostrils.

There was a line of people for the Petsmart Santa. First was very overweight black pug who was snortning and sneezing all over Santa, and wiggling to get off. Clearly this was torture for him (and Santa) Then a Cavelier pup who looked far too young to be out in public yet. (What are people thinking, and what breeder let that puppy leave already? ) Then it was our turn. Zurri was VERY excited to be there and really really really wanted to play with the fluffy kitties behind the glass we were standing next to! Dudley is Dudley and could really care less about anything except the fact he knows where those petsmart people keep their treats! Rubee was just happy to be out in the real world and not have puppies hanging off her!

The Santa was kind of a grumpy Santa. Well...at least that's what we THINK because he didn't say even one single word. He did choke Rubee though, the one dog who wouldn't get up from a sit/stay if her life depended on it! Dudley wasn't very comfortable on the very slippery floor, and Zurri yawned in just about every picture. Here's the best one of the 5 or 6 pictures they took.
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After that Dean and I decided to grab a Starbucks and chat a little. It's nice that we get time to do this now and then, and we sooo enjoy spending time together. Like most parents, all we talk about are the kids, weather they be two footed or 4! When we came home we decided I decided to try taking pictures of the dogs in front of the tree again. We'll add Angela tomorrow when she's home from her dads.
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Later I'll post the outtakes from last night. They're pretty funny!

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Epic Journey

LET THE PREPARATIONS BEGIN! Yes, I'll be 41 years old this summer, and to celebrate it I'll be making an Epic Journey in June with some biker chick friends of mine. NO BOYS ALLOWED! LOL It's a fairly large group, and the ride is actually starting out somewhere in Ohio. (sorry, for the protection of the group I can't give specifics here) and will be traveling cross country to Central WI, then heading up through Duluth MN, then up into Canada. I'll be coming alone back down through WI and home again. I'll have several hundred miles that will be on my own, but the majority of it will be with the group. I cannot wait! This will be my first BIG RIDE...and EPIC RIDE! In the meantime, my bike is freezing out in the garage, but here's a picture of her and I together.
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Foggy day

Some days I can come up with some good stuff to blog about. Some days I have trouble finding my way through the crud in my brain to come up with something interesting. Today would be one of those days. But I'm determined....So here's some fun animal bloopers to give you something to laugh about while you're trying to figure out who you forgot to shop for.

don't wake the baby

Read this in a whisper voice....

Earlier today the last of the puppies left, and just a few minutes later Angela left for her dads. I don't know which one of us hit the couch first, me or Dean. All I know is when I woke up a couple hours later Dean was snoring and the 3 dogs were splayed all over the living room enjoying the quiet and the return to their usual routine. Ssshhhhhh Dean is still sleeping and it's been THREE HOURS! (Maybe I can convince him to go out tonight!)

The next "must have"

Have you heard of the Kindle yet? If not, and you have a reader in your midst, this will be the next "must have" electronic device. Imagine 200 or so books (all of your choosing of course) at your fingertips, in a device the size of a small paper notebook! Need "cheater" glasses? Not a problem, change the font to whatever size you need! Reading in dim light? Not a problem, change the background lighting. Reading while on your treadmill? Not a problem, the "pages" turn when you click a button, so no pages flopping around when you don't want them to. All completely wireless so you can use it anywhere. When flying in a plane it has another setting so you don't have to be connected to the network. What an amazing little device! This thing is going to be HOT for college students! No more loads of text books! Instead they'll all be electronically stored in this one tiny device! And hey, maybe it'll even save some trees too? My friend's husband got his last week and I got to touch it. I'm in awe of his new toy. Here's a link to a video demo Scroll down when you get there to see the video

Here's the Amazon Product description:
  • Revolutionary electronic-paper display provides a sharp, high-resolution screen that looks and reads like real paper.
  • Simple to use: no computer, no cables, no syncing.
  • Wireless connectivity enables you to shop the Kindle Store directly from your Kindle—whether you’re in the back of a taxi, at the airport, or in bed.
  • Buy a book and it is auto-delivered wirelessly in less than one minute.
  • More than 90,000 books available, including more than 95 of 112 current New York Times® Best Sellers.
  • New York Times® Best Sellers and all New Releases $9.99, unless marked otherwise.
  • Free book samples. Download and read first chapters for free before you decide to buy.
  • Top U.S. newspapers including The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and Washington Post; top magazines including TIME, Atlantic Monthly, and Forbes—all auto-delivered wirelessly.
  • Top international newspapers from France, Germany, and Ireland; Le Monde, Frankfurter Allgemeine, and The Irish Times—all auto-delivered wirelessly.
  • More than 250 top blogs from the worlds of business, technology, sports, entertainment, and politics, including BoingBoing, Slashdot, TechCrunch, ESPN's Bill Simmons, The Onion, Michelle Malkin, and The Huffington Post—all updated wirelessly throughout the day.
  • Lighter and thinner than a typical paperback; weighs only 10.3 ounces.
  • Holds over 200 titles.
  • Long battery life. Leave wireless on and recharge approximately every other day. Turn wireless off and read for a week or more before recharging. Fully recharges in 2 hours.
  • Unlike WiFi, Kindle utilizes the same high-speed data network (EVDO) as advanced cell phones—so you never have to locate a hotspot.
  • No monthly wireless bills, service plans, or commitments—we take care of the wireless delivery so you can simply click, buy, and read.
  • Includes free wireless access to the planet's most exhaustive and up-to-date encyclopedia—Wikipedia.org.
  • Email your Word documents and pictures (.JPG, .GIF, .BMP, .PNG) to Kindle for easy on-the-go viewing.
  • Included in the box: Kindle wireless reader, Book cover, Power adapter, USB 2.0 cable

Friday, December 14, 2007

Excited to see the excitement!

Ohhhh I can't wait till Christmas morning when Angela sees what Santa put in her stocking! Two tickets to the "High School Musical" stage show! It's not till April though, so Santa better make sure there's other stuff in the stocking too!

Some of you may remember her excitement last year when I took her to see The Doodlebops. We'd had second row seats, and she got pulled up on stage by one of the background dancers. His name was Michael, and when she sees pictures of the event she relives the entire thing! LOL

Our seats for High School Musical are not quite as good, but we're still on the main floor, but she's so short I just hope she can see over the heads of all the people! Oh well, it'll still be fun. After our Make A Wish trip this will be a great way to wrap up the winter.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

sicky ickies and travel

When kids get sick, it's really quite gross. Especially when the illness involves the sinuses. Angela has a horrible sinus infection and has spent the week smearing snot everywhere. Today she was sick enough for me to say she definitely had to stay home, which meant she had to go along to my doctor appointment before we could get to hers. She's breathing like a freight train and you can hear her coming a mile away. And if she sneezes? Well lets not even go there, shall we? Hopefully the new antibiotics will quick in quickly and she'll be feeling up for school soon!

Oh last week we were given our tentative travel dates and today they were confirmed. We now know exactly when we're leaving for Angela's Make A Wish trip. We'll be having some type of party the middle of January. I can't wait to find out how many people we can invite!

Narcoleptic Insomniac

Is there really such a thing as a Narcoleptic Insomniac? Yes, there most certainly is. I personally know someone who suffers from this condition. How does this happen? Let me tell you a story.....

Since sometime around 15 or 16 I've had a horrible time staying awake. Lots of teenagers are like that though, so I'm sure my parents didn't think much of it. I can remember coming home from school and taking loooooooooooong naps. I think most teenagers do. But there were times when I was also a really busy kid, with track meets and chior concerts, and all that stuff.

Before I knew it, I was a young mom. Aren't all moms of 2 toddlers really tired all the time? I loved when the babies were still on 2 naps a day, because it meant I could take one too! I was lucky that both my boys were nappers!

By the time I was in my mid 20's I was discovering that driving was a bit difficult. Well, the driving wasn't, but staying awake while I was driving sure was tough! Along came Angela. By then there were 5 kids in the house and I was exhausted all the time. Who wouldn't be? But I certainly wasn't short on sleep. I was getting 8-10 hours a night and would wake up in the morning thinking, "If I can just make it till 10:00 a.m., I can take a nap with Angela." Waking up planning your naps isn't a good sign.

When Angela was around 2 or so, my friend Joanie said to me, "You sleep more than anyone I know. I don't think it's normal. Did you know that most adults don't take a 3 or 4 hour nap every day?" (well, I knew they didn't, but I thought they probably WANTED to!) She told me there was going to be a special on 20/20 about sleep disorders, so I watched it. It mostly talked about the truckers that spend too many consecutive hours driving and the results of it, but it also talked about sleep studies, and narcolepsy. I could identify with a lot of the stories. By that time in my life driving more than 10 minutes at a time was very difficult. Angela needed lots of trips to the children's hospital which was 70 miles one way, and I'd often have to pull over 2 or 3 times so I could close my eyes. The story gave a website address of the National Sleep Foundation where you could take a screening test to find out if you should see a sleep specialist.

I took that test, and up popped a warning box, "You should not be operating a motorized vehicle. You need to be sleep by a sleep specialist as soon as possible." Wow...hmmm...ok. So I went to a specialist, had a sleep study, and was diagnosed with Narcolepsy. (a year later my then 15 year old was diagnosed as well.) There is medication you can take for Narcolepsy, but it's extremely expensive and I don't currently have health insurance so I've been off it for quite some time. But it's very strange. Even when I have the medication I don't really want to take it, because like most of us who have Narcolepsy, we LOVE sleep. Also, the medication causes migraines. If I catch them soon enough I can stop them before they render me incapeable of opening my eyes in the daylight, but I'm not always able to catch it.

Most people who have Narcolepsy will tell you people think they are lazy. It's tough to get things done when you really just want to sleep. You have ZERO ambition. BUT...when you take the medication it's like taking speed and you can whip around getting the most amazing amount of stuff done. I often forget just how awake I can be if I'd just take a pill. But it's not an abnormal amount of awakeness (is that a word?) It's a NORMAL amount. Like what everyone around me probably feels like and so I'm shocked at how much they can get done in a day. People with narcolepsy also have trouble with weight gain, because for us, eating out of boredom is also a way to stay awake.

So where does insomnia play in here?

Well...I'm at a lovely age. I'm 40, and have had a hysterectomy which means I'm hitting the peri-menopausal stage a little early. Sorry if this is TMI, but it's crucial to my story. Part of this stage is insomnia.

GOOD GRIEF! I'm so tired of being awake in the middle of the night! This is silly! I can't really get anything done or I'll wake up the whole house. Take tonight for instance. I went to bed at 10:00 like a normal person. Having narcolepsy means I fall asleep within seconds of my head hitting the pillow. But at 11:30 the dogs started barking at something outside (damn deer!) I went back to bed but I knew it was hopeless. I layed there wondering if I could pull the tree out of the storage room, get it up and decorated without waking anyone. Then I remembered the puppy in the basement and knew that idea was out. She'd be barking her head off. So I did my usual and went to the computer to find something interesting to read. It's now 2:00 a.m. and here I still sit. Not even the slightest bit sleepy. I could be decorating a tree, or painting the kitchen, or something else productive, but all I can think about is how tired I'm going to be tomorrow!

Angela is staying home from school since she's not feeling well, and I have a dr. appointment to get to. The lack of sleep is catching up with me and I know I'm going to have a hard time driving, much less getting anything else done. I've gotten to the point that if I have even ONE appointment during the day I feel like I've run a marathon and could sleep for days. It's very frustrating. Not only for me, but for Dean.

So...that's how a narcoleptic insomniac comes to be. Now, I'm going to try going back to bed and see what happens! Goodnight!

Thursday, December 06, 2007

A HUGE Thank you!!!

As we prepare for Angela's upcoming Make A Wish trip, one of my concerns was the dogs. I really wasn't sure about asking MAW to cover boarding for our dogs for an entire week. That's a HUGE expense. A friend of mine who just returned from their MAW trip encouraged me to ask anyway.

In the meantime, I contacted several boarding facilities in the area, and visited a couple as well. UGH! My dogs have been away from us plenty of times, but it's usually with a family friend or something and they have a good visit, but they've never been "kenneled" at a facility before. The ones I visited seemed just like that, very "kennelish".

A friend of mine recently recommended Paws And Claws located in Hudson WI. They are NOT a typical boarding kennel, and in asking around to my other trainer friends I've heard good things about them. Yesterday I emailed them pleading our cause, and they've agreed to take our dogs to make Angela's wish come true! I'm so excited! I have been very nervous about the dog situation. Our dogs are our babies and I'm as picky about where they go as I was about daycare for any of my human kids!

So, Thanks PAWS AND CLAWS for helping us make Angela's wish come true!

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Admission of Guilt

The police detective investigating the case with Angela called me this
morning. The substitute para who slapped her across the face at school
admitted it!

The timing of events is very interesting.

The detective called me this morning around 11:00. At 11:30 I got a call
from one of the other moms in the class. I'd talked to her last week to see
if her daughter had mentioned seeing anything, and she was just getting back to me.
Her daughter said she didn't SEE the slap, she just HEARD IT (from several
feet away she heard skin on skin...), but her friend sitting next to her SAW
IT and said, "Oh my god! "M" just hit Angela in the face!"

I'm waiting for a call from the friend who SAW it. I'm so disturbed that not
only did this happen to Angela, but the fact other kids saw it and the
myriad of things that could be going through their minds.

I was told that the police report will be sent to the city (or was it
county) attorney for review to see if they will prosecute. Even if they do,
this falls under "malicious punishment" which is a misdemeanor, which WILL
NOT SHOW UP ON A BACKGROUND CHECK should she apply for a job in another
district. Is this insane or what?????

Believe me, I'm not done with this. I'm just not exactly sure what's next.
There are so many directions I can take this. One of the things the Dept. of
Education said is at this time, there is no inter-district reporting when
something happens. So like, the district can't report to other districts
just as a precaution. If this woman applies for another job, and puts down
our district as a former employer AND if the new employer CHECKS...THEN
they'll be told of the incident. BUT...if this person were to say something
like, "I haven't worked for any district in the last 5 years" the new
district will likely never know this happened. This also means this COULD have happened before, but our district would have no way of knowing that before this woman was hired. Remember this is a SUB we're talking about, NOT a regular employee. That means she doesn't have an employee file of disciplinary action....NOTHING!!!!!

UGH! I'm so burned up about this. Believe me, this is far from over.

Monday, December 03, 2007

Tonight

Tonight you took my face
in your hands
and turned me
so my eyes met yours

Tonight your eyes
looked deep into my soul
and told me things
that only God knows

Tonight in your eyes
I saw the love
of angels
and the wisdom
of God

Tonight those deep
dark pools of light
bottomless and crystal clear
brought me back
from somewhere
far away
like an anchor

Tonight your eyes
flashed both forward and
back in time
simultaneously
a baby
a woman
in those eyes

Tonight
piercing but
gentle eyes
hold both question
and answer

They hold the world
your eyes
Tonight

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Tis the season to park

C'mon people, it's CHRISTMAS for goodness sake! Sure are alot of scrooges around.

So here I am, making my 3rd run to Petsmart this week. We spend far too much money there! This week alone we've gone through 90 lbs of dog food, and the stuff I buy is a premium food that runs $42 a bag! I really should just get a job there so I can get an employee discount. Better yet, I should have taken out stock in them about 10 years ago before pampering your pooch became the craze that it is today.

Here I am in the parking lot. I spot a space not too far away from the door, but not right next to it either...in the next row. Since there's a grass median there I have to go all the way around. Not a big deal, as I'm in no hurry. Dean is home sleeping in front of the watching the football game, and Angela is gone, so I'm on my own with almost no time limit.

As I'm getting ready to make a right turn into my coveted spot, an oncoming SUV comes sliding towards me in the slushy snow/salt mixure, and turns his blinker on JUST as he starts to turn. Cuz, you know, turning your signal on at the last possible second means you can claim the spot. Except the guy slides too much and is now past the spot, and even with me, so I go ahead and pull into it.

I putzed around getting my act together to exit the vehicle, when I did, here was the guy. Apparently he'd stood at the back of his vehicle and waited for me to come out. "That was my spot you know, I had my signal on."

I looked to see that his vehicle is parked just two spots away. "What? Was I supposed to back up so that you could back up and pull into the spot?"

"That doesn't matter. It was my spot, I had my signal on."

"I'm sorry you had trouble driving on the slush. Apparently you're not from here and don't realize that 4WD equals go power, not stop power, and that driving fast through parking lots isn't a good idea this time of year. Apparently you're having a bad day and I look like a willing victim. Sorry, not playing. Hope the rest of your day is better!" and I walked away.

I'd love to carry a card with me that has my blog address on it. Then when people irritate me enough to write about them, I can give them the card so they can come read it for themselves. I bet that'll get me some votes! LOL

Rise-n-shine!

It's morning.

Angela is gone, and last night I stayed up extra late looking forward to the fact today is the only morning in the next month that I can sleep in. Like a lot of people, I sleep best from about 5:00 a.m. Sometimes during the week I get up with Dean and visit with him while he has his morning POT of coffee (no wonder he pees every 5 minutes!) Keep in mind that "sometimes" is maybe like once a week, because "sometimes" is at 4:30 a.m. and "sometimes" I'm not able to get back to sleep! UGH, I hate that!

So today I'm sleeping in. I never hear Dean get out of bed. Ever. It's other things that wake me up, like the front door creaking when he lets the dogs out, or the beep of the coffee pot that is actually very quiet, just a noise that happens to go right up my spinal column to the back of my head where it bangs like a hammer and makes me feel anxious and stuff. Another thing that wakes me up is Angela. Ok, she's not a thing, but my darling sweet daughter who stands in the bedroom door and says, "Mom, can I lay down by you?" Yeah, don't be fooled. She doesn't really want to lay with me, she wants the warm spot that Dean left.

This morning it was none of those things that woke me up. No, instead it was SCREECHING PUPPIES!!!!! I love the puppies, but I don't love them at 6:00 on a Sunday morning when I want to sleep in.

Everyone knows the rule about waking a sleeping baby, right? Well, waking sleeping puppies is even worse! Especially when all eight of 'em are going to wake up hungry and have to pee and poop. Normally Dean can get to the basement smoking spot (that will be another post) without waking the puppies because they're out in the 3 season porch. Only yesterday we decided it was too cold out there and they needed to be moved inside. (this is why I've always avoided winter litters, and why I'll never do another winter litter again.) Now the puppies have 1/4 our our basement (which is actually pretty big) PLUS the porch to run around in AND a potty area.

So Dean tries to sneak downstairs to the fireplace/smoking spot when he hears a tiny "ruff". That's all it takes for all the puppies to leap to their feet and start throwing themselves against the side of the pen, screaming in excitement and hunger, in hopes that Daddy has brought breakfast with him.

Daddy does not have food (he hasn't yet figured out you don't show up at feeding time without food!) but he does let the puppies out of the pen into the porch so they can go potty in the big litter box we have set up for them. Only they've waited all night and not one puppy makes it to the box. Instead all 8 of them immediately squat and poop, and since I just wormed them a couple days ago, it's liquid poop. It's impossible to get it cleaned up before every puppy runs through every pile. (later today I'll teach him how to get all the puppies to the litter box in time.)

While he was cleaning up the poop everywhere, the puppies were still screaming and clamoring around his legs, jumping and trying to tell him "Please...feed us...we're starving...we can't wait 5 more minutes." And since they'd just run through poop, well...he needs a shower now.

All of this noise made it's way to my ears which had been sleeping peacefully upstairs. There is no amount of blanket rearranging, or holding pillows over your head that will drown out screeching puppies. Besides, I needed to make sure he was doing everything right, so I dragged my body out of bed, grabbed my robe, then waddled to the kitchen where I got puppy food ready. While that was soaking for a minute I came here to check email and stuff. See, I haven't gone downstairs yet because I KNOW it's silly to do so without the food to shut the puppies up!

Now it's 8:15 and all is quiet. The puppies are fed, and after they ate they all pooped in the litter box where they're supposed to. Rubee went in to play with them a little, which is very funny, and now they're tired and getting ready to nap. My pillow is now begging me to come back and cuddle with it some more. Since it's Sunday, and Angela is gone and the puppies are all taken care of, I just might do that!

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Bringing Sasha Home


Meet Sasha! Isn't she a lovely little girl? Sasha is an orphan in Eastern Europe. She recently turned 5 years old, only for her it wasn't a celebration. Instead it meant a move to a place far worse than where she's spent her life thus far.

In her country, when children who have Down Syndrome turn 5 and have not yet been adopted, they're moved to a mental institution where they live out their days starving, cold, and unloved. They are left to waste away until they are killed by some horrible illness, malnutrition or severe deyhdration kills them. In most cases, these children are no longer available for adoption and are, for all intense purposes, dead to the world.

But for Sasha, there is hope! She doesn't know, but she has a family here in the US trying desperately to get her out of this certain death sentences. The Cornish Family. Because her process was started before she was moved, Sasha will still be able to be adopted. The Cornish family is well into the process, and is hoping to be told they'll be traveling to get Sasha in February. Until then, Sasha is living the life of all the other orphans in the institution. A miserable, hopeless existance. There are many of us praying daily that her body, mind, and soul can hold on to a hope she doesn't know exists. That when she gets home, her new family will be able to love her back to health and healing. The Cornish family can use our help, even if it's only a couple of dollars. Please, help bring this angel home to warmth, love, and happiness that she would otherwise die never having felt any of it.

There are a lot of children just like her, waiting...getting ready to "celebrate" their birthday. Visit Reece's rainbow. You'll find lots of ways you can donate, and the children who are in the most desperate of situations are noted. Those are children who's birthday's are approaching and will be given their death sentences of life within the institutions.

Sadly, it's true

It's 8:00 a.m. Angela's principal called me 1/2 hr an ago to make sure I knew the State Dept. and Police detective would be at school today. (Yes, I already knew.)

He went on to say, "I hate to have to say this, but in talking to other staff, and the other students who were standing right there when this happened, there is no doubt in my mind an innappropriate physical exchanged happened by this staff person towards Angela. I want you make sure you understand this person will never work in our district again, and Angela will never be exposed to her on any of our district property."

I didn't know what to say. What do you say to that?

I asked him about her working with other districts, and how that process works. He said, " I can only speak for our district. But the police and the state will be here, and I would be sure to ask them these same questions."

So I know.

I know the district cares for my child enough to believe her even when it's something horrible that she's told them.

I know that my child will be safe from this person, at least in this district.

I know that the district will never again have anyone with Angela (or any other student) who hasn't been through the appropriate training.

I know that Angela's regular staff, those who work with her every day, are mortified that this happened to her, and in their building.

I know I'm not done. If I have to press charges individually I'll be doing so. I haven't yet decided about going to the media. I might wait until there is a police report and I have a name. I don't want the media after Angela's school, they did everything they were supposed to do and then some. I want the media after this person, and I want her name in the news so when she tries to get a job in another district people will remember the name.

I also know where I'd like this person to go.

Sing...Sing A Song!

I have to be completely honest here. When Angela was a baby, it never would have occurred to me that one day she might be taking voice lessons.

As you know, she was accepted into the Theater group that she auditioned for last week. She's quite excited! We decided to ad voice lessons as well. It took us a bit to find a teacher willing to work with "a kid like her", but I think the teacher we found is gonna be great!!!

Our lesson was scheduled for 2:00, but the teacher called me this morning to ask what types of music Angela likes best, if she has a favorite song, etc. I told her anything from "Suessical" is at the top of her list right now, and there are a couple of songs that only have a few words and relatively simple melodies. I didn't tell her this, because I don't want to influence her expectations, but if Angela learns to sing "The Itsy Bitsy Spider" or some other preschool-ish song well, I'd be thrilled to death!

She said one of the things we'd be doing this first lesson is finding Angela's range. I had to laugh, I said, "Angela's range is MONOTONE." She replied with, "Oh, I have a children's chior and one my students is deaf! Now THAT is monotone singing, but you know what? She's singing and with all her friends, ands he tries her best, and that's what's important to HER!"

I'm thinking I'm liking this woman.

So we go for the lesson. She does some scale stuff with Angela, and points out that Angela IS able to match the pitch, but in an octave lower than what most kids sing. She has a very deep voice. The teacher dropped everything down one octave and Angela was able to match the pitch very well. And my, oh my....I wish I'd had my camera with me! She stood there like a high school student in a voice lesson, feeling very important and grown up! (Though she did occasionally burst into Seussical songs. LOL )

When the lesson was done Angela excused herself to the bathroom and the teacher and I were talking about some things. She said she doesn't know much about DS, but she was going to do some research about working with kids who have DS. That she'd start out working in Angela's current range, then later teach her how to move up and down in pitch. I mentioned that it's my understanding that the vocal folds have to be of good tone to make higher pitches, and since Angela's entire body has low tone it would make sense that her vocal folds do as well. (Angela is not able to scream like typical little girls do, though she can sometimes make this "sea gull" type noise when she's very excited. However in order to do so, she tightens up her entire neck and face.)

Anyway, Angela really enjoyed the lesson and is looking forward to going back next week. For this month they'll be working on Christmas songs, then after the holidays will start working on songs from Seussical.

It's very cool to watch your kid grow up right before your eyes!

Friday, November 23, 2007

New Family Members

When you're looking for to add a 4 legged family member, particularly of the canine variety, most people think they can walk into a litter of puppies and pick the one that stands out to them. If this is you, toss this idea right out of your head.

While this can work, more often than not you end up with a dog who is not what you were envisioning as your perfect companion. I have one family in mind who's dog, although he's very nice, and he's friendly, is NOT the cuddly "ever present buddy" that they long for. Instead he prefers to keep to himself, getting pet when he feels he needs it, then going back to doing his own thing. For some people he would be the perfect dog, but for this family he leaves them hungry for more attention from him. Now, it could be he's like this because he's old and wants to be left alone, but I think he's always been this way to some extent. They occasionally babysit a dog or 2 of mine, and have been known to say, "So THIS is what a dog is supposed to be like?"

So how do you pick a dog for your family? First of all, you find a breeder who KNOWS dogs. Don't be fooled though. Just because someone has a lot of dogs does NOT mean they have any clue about understanding dog dispositions and what THEY need in a family!

Take our current litter for examply. For the past 6 weeks we have watched this litter of puppies. We were there for the very first breath (in fact, assisted with each of them.) We've watched every step of their development. I've also come to know our puppy families, some better than others, and what they desire in their new family member. This goes beyond "how many kids do you have and will the dog be home alone." type of questions from many breeders.

And so we watch. And we listen to our hearts with each puppy.

But just for fun, earlier this week I had a canine behaviorist come in. An outside party who has never met any of my puppies, doing assessments in a room the puppies have never seen before. Man, this is fascinating to watch. What was really interesting is watching how each puppy acted AWAY FROM THE PACK and with someone brand new, who had toys they'd never seen before, on a slippery floor and a rug their feet have never touched. (just like human babies, dogs need to experience new textures, sights and sounds.) While this is going on, I'm taking notes about how the puppies react to the various tests.

My next task is to take that information and mesh it with what I already know about each puppy, and all information I have from each family, and match them to the best of my ability. Now you may think this is all a bit overboard, but there's a reason for all of it, the most important one being happiness. I want my puppy families to be happy with the puppy they bring home, and I want my puppies to be happy in the home they go to. So far, we've done pretty well. Two and three years later I have families call me who say, "Our dog is EXACTLY as you described him on your website at 6 weeks old!" But the most rewarding part of all is the pictures we get back as the puppies get older. Smiling kids, smiling parents, smiling dogs.

A couple months ago, one of our dogs, Addie, came back to us at 2 years old. Her family decided she just wasn't getting enough attention from them. I worried about where I was going to send her. She'd just lost the family and kids she was attached to. Now what? I posted her on my website, then remembered that one of my other puppy families had contacted me and gave the impression they were shopping for another dog. (though they didn't come right out and say it.) They have a one year old male named "Sparky" who is a fully sibling to Addie, but a full year younger. I emailed the mom, asking if they would by chance be interested in Addie. She discussed it with her husband, and that weekend Addie went for a trial visit. That was three months ago and I haven't seen her since! They absolutely fell in love with her, and Sparky, who'd become kind of lonely, now had a playmate who he adores. Addie, who'd gotten overweight due to inactivity is now in beautiful shape. A couple weeks ago the family called me and said, "We can't imagine life without these two dogs! Two doodles are definitely better than one, and we couldn't love our two doodles more!"

That is why I love doing what I do!
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Wednesday, November 21, 2007

A Scary Dose of Reality

The wake up call is for me. I'm scared and I'm shaking, and I feel like somehow I've failed my child. But I wasn't there! How can I protect my child when I can't be there every moment of every day?

Before I start, I want to explain that Angela is not capable of lying. She clearly has a vivid imagination, but she's not able to lie to cover up something, or to make someone else be the bad guy if SHE did something wrong. Also, whenever there is a substitute para (classroom aid) in the special ed. department, THAT person goes with Angela while the regular every day staff go with the other students. For some reason Angela does better with new staff, probably because she doesn't yet know how to push their buttons until she's had a chance to study them for a bit. For some kids, having a sub. para is a nightmare, but for Angela, these are usually her best days. (leave it to my kid to break the rules on how things should work!)

Anyway, earlier this afternoon I got a phone call from school. Angela's mainstream class was lining up to transition to another class. Angela was having some "issues", and threw her auditory trainer (a mic system for her hearing aids). She had a substitute para who is new to her. The para went and picked up the trainer, and told Angela "You need to carry this nicely or I'll carry it."

Mistake 1) Clearly the person hasn't been trained as to how to deal with Angela's outbursts. ZERO attention for them is the rule of thumb, or things will continue to escalate.

When the para leaned over the hand Angela she was IN Angela's face, kind of growling at her (according to the statements of the regular ed kids who were standing right there), Angela, not liking the woman in her face, slapped the woman's face.

Mistake 2) When Angela is having "issues" you MUST stay out of reach if at all possible. Again...training. Not only did this woman become confrotational, but she got IN Angela's face. The vision I have isn't a good one, and I hope that I'm envisioning it incorrectly.

The classroom teacher had her back to the situation and was talking to another student when suddenly Angela started crying like she was hurt.

Warning 1) Angela rarely cries in fear or pain. When Angela cries, you know something REAL happened. Her teacher has been known to say, "I know she was really hurt because she had real tears!"

The teacher, concerned about the REAL tears asked Angela what was wrong, and Angela claimed the para slapped her.

Warning 2) Angela doesn't know how to lie.

The teacher immediately took control of the situation. The principal as well as the head special ed teacher were notified. The principal called to tell me he's investigating this. He knows Angela well, and knows she doesn't lie. He has talked to the other kids who were right there when it happened, though he hasn't yet told me what he's found out.

Obviously I have lots of concerns about the entire situation, my biggest being Angela's safety. I understand that her having behavioral issues puts her at significant risk of getting hurt, either as she's being physically removed from an area (though this hasn't been necessary for several months) or because of staff who aren't appropriately trained in how to implement Angela's behavioral plan. Of course there is also the occasional person who gets it into their head, "Give her a dose of her own medicine once and there won't be any more problems!" I've always prayed one of these people never come into Angela's life.

I have questions too. Not just about the incident (I have plenty of questions there!) but about Angela's life in general. Why does she do this stuff in school and not anywhere else? I've had next to nothing in the way of behavioral issues for a couple of months now. When she is in other situations (like the theater group) I'm never worried about what she might do. I think it has to do with independence. Angela wants it, and at school she doesn't get it. When we do stuff like theater, I either leave like all the other parents, or just stay out of sight so she can have the same experience everyone else does.

And what about Angela's ability to communicate with me? Compared to many kids who have DS, Angela is able to be quite clear. But guess what? Any time there is an accusation made such as this, it's going to come back to how "credible" the child is. How easy will it be for an adult to deny this, and blame Angela's PERCEIVED inability to understand the incident? Who do you believe? I know exactly who I believe, but what about the others involved. With today's incident, the principal was genuinely concerned on several levels. He also made it clear that he's concerned about Angela's transition to the middle school next year, and the training that staff receives before she gets there.

I wish I had all the answers. But what I wish most of all is to have Angela safe, and know that no matter what happens she can count on the adults around her to keep her safe. School is supposed to be a safe place. It breaks my heart to know that she might not be safe there. At least not all the time. Don't get me wrong, our school is fantastic and I know without a shadow of a doubt that they have Angela's best interest in mind. But I don't walk with rose colored glasses on either, and I know that sometime there is going to be that one person who comes along that doesn't belong in the same room with my daughter.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Auditions

I'm so incredibly proud of Angela tonight! A couple weeks ago I mentioned that she'd been invited to join the SOS Players, which is a teen theater group that travels the nation doing their thing in schools, etc. Well, there have been several of the kids who are cast in "Seussical" who have expressed an interest in this so the executive director decided to go ahead and hold open auditions. The kids were instructed to bring a 1 minute story or monologue to read. (it didn't need to be memorized)

When we arrived there was a form to be filled out that asked some questions like "What's your favorite cartoon." etc. I helped Angela fill out the form then she went off to visit with the other 7 or 8 kids who were there. She knew all of them from "Seussical" so she felt very comfortable. The parents were told they could leave or stay, though it was pretty clear that "leave" was the option that was encouraged. I chose to stay just in case Angela needed an interpreter, but I sat far enough away that I wasn't really there, if that makes any sense.

We then moved to the theater, where the whole process was explained by the director. "Your audition actually started when you walked in the door. We've been watching how you interact with the other kids, do you feel shy, or do you jump right in, etc." As he said this I could still see Angela, plopping herself down near the other girls, Saying hello to them and joining in their laughter. Something so typical of an 11 year old, yet something I don't take for granted.

Then the director went on to explain the next item on the agenda. This was a game where the director sort of mimed some activities, and the kids needed to mirror what he was doing. He made lots of sound effects too, which the kids had to try to duplicate, but he said no words. Angela did all of the things right along with everyone else, and to me at least seemed less reserved than some of the other kids. Several times she broke into her hysterical laughter which got everyone else laughing. When the director was done miming he asked the kids what sorts of activities he'd been acting out. All the kids, including Angela, were able to name at least one activity.

Once that was done it was time for the shopping game. Two kids compete against each other. In front of them is an imaginary grocery cart. The first person acts out picking an item off the shelf and putting it in his/her cart, labeling as they do. Maybe it's potatoes, or pizza, or milk, etc. The the other person has to take a turn. They need to think fast, as hesitation gets them eliminated, and they'll also be eliminated if they repeat an item that either of them said. The game was explained, and a quick sample game was played by the director and another teen actor. They then asked who wanted to go first. One little girl raised her hand to try the game against one of the teen actors, but she didn't get very far. She's very young (just turned 7) and I think was a little intimidated.

Angela volunteered to go next. She played against another boy her age. I loved watching her play this game. First of all, I wasn't sure she really understood what the game was about. Normally she would watch 2 or 3 rounds of a game like this to make sure she understands it before volunteering. But not tonight! Tonight she jumped right in and it was clear she understood the game. She did everything right. The second thing I'm proud of is that she did better than 3 or 4 of the other kids. She was able to list her items quickly, stay on task, and not get flustered by what they were saying or doing, NOR by the audience of about 20 who were watching!

That done, it was time to do the readings. Everyone went back downstairs and they were called up one by one to read their story. Angela didn't want me to go along, so I hung back and went up after her. She didn't know I was around the corner listening to her reading. ;-) The director helped her with lots of the words, but Angela kept plugging right along. She never gave up. When she was done they told her how much they liked her energy, and that she was clearly excited to be there.

The most special thing of all happened when she was done with her audition. Angela LIVES this play that our dogs are in. Seussical is a fantastic show! She's gotten to know the cast, and has the entire script memorized, but has been very disappointed that she's not actually in it. Every night she asks, "Can I go on the stage tonight? I want to be Jojo...or baby Kangaroom...or Horton." The funny thing is, all the kids who ARE in the play have the acts that THEY'RE not in memorized as well, and like to spend a lot of time recreating them. So here we are in the lobby area of this building, and the cast kids are acting out the play. Angela....queen of imaginary play...could not have been more thrilled to find herself among a group of kids who love to do just what she was spends her days doing...acting out scenes from the play! She jumped right into one of the dance numbers with them and I kid you not people, she was glowing!

The audition done, we headed home. A couple hours later there was a phone call from the director. They'd LOVE to have Angela join their group! I'm so proud of her. Theater is something I know she's going to excel in, but the best part of all is seeing her excitement about being included. Not because she's the token disabled child, but because she shows interest and talent, just like the other kids.

And then there is Bulgaria

Don't turn your back. Don't skip this post. This is probably one you should read the most.

You read my post about the children in Serbia. Yesterday a friend of mine in the UK said there was a similar story aired there about Bulgaria. Here's a link to it. This is unbelievable. That this can happen in the year 2007, we should be ashamed. And if you want to turn your back because it's too difficult to look at the pictures, you should be even more ashamed. That's exactly what these governments are doing and look where it got these children.

You say, "But what can *I* do about it? Just me, here in the US, minding my own business? I'm not in any position to adopt a child." There are millions of us who are not, but we CAN do something. We can help to get even ONE child out. Click on the Reese's Rainbow button at the top of my page and find out how you can help get one child out.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Imagine a different life

Imagine you're a newborn baby. Born in a land far different than where you are now. A place where the value of human life is much different than it is in developed countries. Now imagine that you were born with something like Down Syndrome, or something as minor as a hand deformity.

Your parents will be told to send you away, that there is no care for you, and you're going to die anyway. So your parents follow the advice of doctors and bring you to an orphanage. But remember, this is an orphanage in a 3rd world country. You spend your days, weeks, months and years cold, hungry, and without medical care. If you're lucky, there will be one caregiver who takes a liking to you and tries to give you some extra attention each day.

But there's something looming over you. Something that most children in the world celebrate...your 4th birthday. Only for you, this birthday brings a death sentence, because in many of these countries, if you turn 4 and have not been adopted you'll be moved to a mental institution where you are no longer available for adoption. For all intense purposes, to the rest of the world you are dead.

There you well spend your days like this
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You will be straight jacketed in sheets. Why? Because of the intense boredom and lack of human physical contact you will resort to desperate measures, even if it means gouging your own eyes out. The only contact you will get with people is if you're lucky, someone will notice that your sheets are full of urine and feces and decide to change them. You will never see sunshine. You will never smell fresh air, only the overpowering odor of urine and feces from several hundred children just like you crammed into the same building getting the same lack of care. You will likely die within the first couple of years from some terrible illness, severe dehydration, or hypothermia from lack of heat in the decrepit building.

Or perhaps you would be like this little girl. Bound by her wrists for years already, left alone in a state of severe dehydration. TIED TO HER BED!!!!!
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If you don't die within the first couple of years, your body might continue to grow. But don't think it will get you a bigger bed. Instead you'll be forced to spend more years in the same crib, just like these TEENAGERS have been crammed in.
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But it doesn't have to be this way! It doesn't! While governments and organizations like Mental Disability Rights International will have to deal with the indidual countries, there are ways to save these children! Reece's Rainbow is an adoption organization dedicated to rescuing children with Down Syndrome from certain death in these countries. There are many children who are approaching their 4th birthday. While not everyone is in a position to adopt a child, Reece's Rainbow has established a fund for each child to help with the adoption expenses so that nobody can say, "I would do it if I had the money."

Even if you can't adopt a child, can you spare $5, $10 or more so that someone else can? Please...this makes me sick to know these children are dying. Read through the child profiles. You'll find children that have nothing wrong with them other than an eye that needs surery, or a hand that has a mild deformity, yet they have been thrown away. But we can save them!!!!

Ya know what would be cool?

First of all, there are people who read here who have put my voting page into their favorites, and they vote every day when they check their email. To you, I say THANK YOU!!! You've bumped me up to 11th place out of 270 bloggers (well, I think some have dropped out so it might be 230 something.) That is quite an accomplishment considering the contest has been going on a year and a half, and I've only been in it 6 weeks! Again, thank you!

There are only 46 mored days to vote. That is only 46 days to get 16,000 votes! While that seems an impossible task it's not! There are approximately 150 people reading my blog every day. If every one of you sent an email to 15 people in your address book, and asked them to vote for me every day for a week, that would put me in the lead as of today's numbers. If they voted every day for 2 weeks, I'd win.

Some of you who are reading belong to large groups, like biker groups. They might be interested in seeing blogs like this one. or even this Why not send everyone in the group an email, and ask them to vote if they like that blog.

Some of you might belong to parenting groups, and they might be interested in blogs like this

Scroll through my blog archive to the right. There's a little bit here for everyone I suppose.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Ode to a Mammogram

Here's a bunch of breast related humor for the day. Did I mention I have to starve myself for tomorrow morning. That darned cholesterol blood work you know. Anyway, have fun reading....

Ode to a Mammogram

For years and years they told me,
Be careful of your breasts,
Don't ever squeeze or bruise them,
And give them monthly tests.
So I heeded all their warnings,
And protected them by law.
Guarded them very carefully,
And I always wore my bra.
After 30 years of astute care,
My Doctor found a lump.
She ordered up a mammogram,
To look inside that bump.
"Stand up very close," she said,
As she got my boob inline.
"And, tell me when it hurts," she said. "Ah yes!
There, that's fine." She stepped upon a peddle.
I could not believe my eyes!
A plastic plate pressed down and down, My boob
was in a vice! My skin was stretched and
stretched from way up under my chin. My poor
boob was being squashed, to Swedish pancake thin.
Excruciating pain I felt,
Within it's vice-like grip.
A prisoner in this vicious thing,
My poor defenseless tits!
'Take a deep breath," she said to me,
Who does she think she's kidding?
My chest is mashed in her machine,
And woozy I am getting.
"There, that was good," I heard her say
As the room was slowly swaying.
"Now let's have a go at the other one." Lord have
mercy," I was praying. It squeezd me from up and
down, It squeezed me from both sides,
I'll bet she's never had this done,
Not to her tender little hide!
If I had no problem when I came in,
I surely have one now.
If there had been a cyst in there,
It would have popped, Ker-pow!
This machine was designed by man,
Of this I have no doubt,
I'd like to stick his balls in there.
And see how they come out!

Right of passage

Throughout our life there are certain things that are considered rights of passage things. You know...like learning to ride a 2 wheeler without training wheels. That was a BIG deal, and meant you weren't a little kid anymore. Going to school! Now that was a big one, wasn't it? Loosing your first tooth, which in our house also meant your first visit from the tooth fairy. Getting your drivers license. Talk about major!

For girls, getting their period is a big thing, because "now you're a woman" and all that jazz. It's even bigger than getting that first bra. Somewhere in there is your first pap smear, something most of us would rather live without. Having your first baby has got to be the ultimate right of passage for us women, and it doesn't matter if it's by birth or adoption. Each brings it's own experiences that ultimately give you the right to be called a mom.

Which brings me to my next right of passage. Dean and I had spent several months arguing about why he needed to go in for a check-up. It has been years and I was pretty sure his doctor would tell him he was a walking heart attack. In my pestering he asked when the last time was that *I* had gone in for a check-up???? Yeah, I did a little back pedaling, because it had been several years. In fact, it had been EIGHT years! Yep..EIGHT!

I really didn't see the reason to go in for a check-up. Yes, pap smears are important, but I don't have those parts anymore. (sorry for the TMI guys) and that's the biggest reason for a check-up right? For the sake of the argument I agreed to go in if Dean would. The conversation with the doctor went like this:

So she's looking at my chart (I'm new there so she's never seen me before) and says,

Dr: "Ummm...it's been EIGHT years since your last check-up?"

Me: Yes
Dr (somewhat sarcastically): You know it's recommended that you come in yearly...right?
Me: Yeah..I know...so here I am lets get it done with.
Dr: So you need a few different immunizations too.
Me: lovely
Dr: Have you ever had your cholesterol checked?
Me: Nope...guess we'll be doing that too huh?
Dr: Ummmm yeah. You have one child with Down Syndrome?
Me: yes.

So I get undressed, have a seat on the table, and she starts teasing me...

Dr: Those kids with Down Syndrome are so loving and happy all the time.
Me (internally cheering because she said it right, cringing because of the steretype): Yeah, let me have my daughter come in here so she can call you a dumbass and F-ing B-ch. She'll dispell the myth for you.
Dr: So, as you can see, we still use styrrups.
Me: great. Gotta love those styrrups.
Dr: We still do a breast exams too. That hasn't gone techno yet.
Me: K
Dr: So you really need to come in every year.
Me: Yeah, so you told me.
Dr: We do have some new tools! Lookc..Clear disposable speculums.
Me: Great, thank goodness for advances in medicine.
Dr: Yeah, and if you'd been coming in when you were supposed to, you would know this already.
Me: Yeah, thanks for reminding me AGAIN
Dr: So you need to see the dermatologist to have them look at the spot on your neck.
Me: I was gonna ask you about that.
Dr: No need to, it's the size of a lemon, can't miss it. You have lots of sun damage, given your family history you really need to stay out of the sun, and then when you come in every year we can keep a better eye on your skin.
Me: great, I'll remember that. Do I have to have a mammogram? My friends are giving me a hard time cuz I haven't had one yet.
Dr: Nope, you get lucky on that one. You're 39 with no family history, so you get one more year. You do need a pap every 3-5 years (cuz I've had a hysterectomy and only have my ovaries left) But you STILL need a pelvic every year, plus breast exam. So you STILL have to come in every year......... I'm also writing a referral for you to see the audiologist.
Me: HUH? I haven't had an ear infection in years, and my meneirs only acts up once in a great while.
Dr: Because I just asked you something and you didn't hear me.
Me: Great....can't wait to hear what they say

That conversation took place a year and a half ago. I never did quite make it to the audiologist, nor the dermatologist. But tomorrow is that right of passage I was talking about. It happens when you turn 40 (unless there is a family history that indicates it needs to be done sooner.) Yep...the mammogram. Lucky me. Dean's previous wife died of breast cancer. I'm a little surprised he hasn't bugged me about going in, but then he'd have to go in for his check-up too, wouldn't he?

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

&*$#*

That is what Dean spent an hour saying while he tried to put up a new light fixture. We've been talking lately about not buying things manufactured outside the US. (this is very difficult to do, because it seems that the US doesn't produce much of it's own stuff, which would be why we have a high unemployment rate...but I digress.) So of course, this particular light fixture he was battling with was produced in one of the countries that start with a "C" and it's not Canada.

The reason we know where it was manufactured is because when Dean started having trouble, he checked the box. The screws that came with the thing stripped as soon as he touched them with the screwdriver. I swear, I saw them melt with my own eyes. Since I had to make a milk run I was also nominated to make a hardware store run as well. When I came back 45 minutes later Dean said, "Those don't look the same." HUH??? Yes they did! I handed him his glasses.

He stood at the top of the ladder, which was standing just above the stairs, to put the entryway light fixture up. The screws that I got, which were exactly the same as the ones that came with the thing, were too short to do what they were supposed to do. It was about this stage of the fixture replacement that Angela started reminding him, "Don't say bad words Dean." Which, of course, made him want to say more. It's also when he said, "This is why I don't do electrical." To which I reminded him he wasn't supposed to be doing it. His nephew was. "Yeah, well I can't wait on someone else and listen to you whine about this for another month!"

AAahhhh I get it. It's MY fault he has to do this, and my fault the screws suck too. I should have figured this out from the beginning. Silly me!

Eventually he was able to get the new fixture up. He's in the basement smoking an entire pack of cigarettes now. Do you suppose this would be a bad time for me to ask if he picked up his quit smoking pills yet?

Monday, November 12, 2007

Rebellion

Is it possible to rebel against yourself? This whole weight loss thing (or shall I say, WEIGHT GAIN) is getting the best of me. But what's KILLING ME is this feeling of rebellion I have, and I feel like I'm rebelling against myself. Honestly I don't know how else to describe it.

Making a Wish

Some of you may have read about Angela's original Make A Wish. I think it was back in May or June that the people from Make A Wish came to the house. Our representative's name is Hannah, and this was the very first wish she'd done, so she was accompanied by Make A Wish of Minnesota's president.

They really enjoyed interviewing Angela, finding out all her likes and dislikes. For an interview with child, it was quite thorough! Angela made it pretty clear that her entire life revolved around Zack and Cody

Wish kids make 3 wishes. A travel wish, (assuming they're healthy enough to travel.) a "closer to home" wish if travel is difficult, and an "at home" wish if travel is just out of the question. Angela's first wish was to meet Zack and Cody at the Disney Studios in California. Her second wish was a playhouse in the back yard. She wants something along the lines of this
and her 3rd wish was a new bedroom. (I think, oh my gosh, now I don't remember!) We were told that the wait for Zack and Cody would be up to a year long, as they're very popular right now, but we could go with her second wish instead of waiting. We weighed the options and decided to wait it out. A play house is something we could potentially do on our own, but Zack and Cody? We could never make that happen without divine intervention! So, the waiting began.

Today a friend of mine on downsyn posted about their recent trip to Give The Kids The World village in Kissimee, Florida. The had a wonderful time! I went to the website and was looking around when Angela came into the office and stood behind me, "I wanna go there!" she yelled into my ear. "That looks really neat, doesn't it? But we're going to meet Zack and Cody, remember? This place is for kids who don't want to meet Zack and Cody." She seemed satisfied with that answer and walked away.

Reading about their trip reminded me that I hadn't talked to Hannah, our MAW coordinator, since August, so I decided to give her a call and see how Angela's wish is coming, and what the time frame looks like.

HELLO! There is a WRITERS STRIKE!! She said she couldn't believe I called at that very moment. In her lap sat a list of families to call, all of whom had "Meet a star" wishes that, because of the writer's strike, would now be postponed a year or more! Shew as going to be asking them to choose another wish, something that is really tough to do if you have a really seriously ill child who may not have much time left and had been holding onto that wish to keep them going. I asked her about the GKTW village and she said "ABSOLUTELY!!!"

When I got off the phone I called Angela into the office. I explained to her that Zack and Cody are kind of on a vacation right now, and since there are a lot of kids in line, it would be a very long time before we could meet them. Would she be interested in going to GKTW village instead?

The smile and twinkle of excitement was my answer. "On a PLANE? Do we fly up high on a plane? You, me and Dean ON A PLANE? See the Ocean? And Dolphins? And Disney?"

Tonight after she went to bed, she hollered from her room, "Mom? Hey Mom? Don't forget to pack my swimming suit!"

Creative Income

Some people need to find "creative financing" in order to make big purchases...like a mortgage. I, on the other hand, needed to find "creative income" in order to survive.

When Angela's dad and I separated, I was working full-time as a sign language interpreter in the educational system. I had 3 kids with me, and while things were tight, they were manageable. Then two years later the boys decided to move to their dads, and Angela and I decided to move to Eagan and start our new together with Dean. We moved September 1st. On September 6th Angela and I were on a bike ride with her new "kanga bike". She was loving this, and laughing hysterically when suddenly the ground came rushing at us and we landed in tangled mess. Angela landed with her belly making a loud "SLAP" noise on the pavement. I picked her up, brushed her off, and saw she only had some minor scrapes on her palms but was otherwise ok.

Later that night as I was helping her get her PJ's on I noticed her old Nissen scar was bulging. It was just a tiny bulge, but I knew from Angela's history with wounds that this seemingly small thing could snowball right before my eyes. The next morning I brought her into her surgeon who said, "Really, I think it's ok. Yes, there's a tiny hernia there, but I'm not touching it unless it becomes infected or something, and that's pretty unlikely."

"You do realize this is Angela you're talking about. The child who is world renown medical rule-breaker?" I asked. He laughed. I said, "See you in 2 weeks. I know we'll be back here around that time."

Days later the "small hernia" was fire red and she was burning up. She was admitted to the hospital for the first of many stays. Finally Anagela went into the hospital the first week of November, and stayed until the end of February. During that time she had 3 major surgeries and had an open surgical wound about 6 inches long on her belly. It was not a good year! I would sleep at the hospital in Angela's room, then in the morning use the parent showers to get ready for work. The commute to Chaska wasn't too bad since I was going the opposite way from the rest of the world. After work I'd stop home, grab a new change of clothes for the next day, then head back to the hospital.

Angela got very sick. She had an old surgical scar that deteriorated, requiring numerous surgeries, and a winter of IV antibiotics in the hospital. It was really tough to work during that time. My position wasn't one that was easily filled by a sub, even on the rare occasions one was available.

There came a day, sometime around the beginning of January, when I realized I just couldn't DO this anymore. Her dad had only been to the hospital once to give me a break. He stayed overnight, but spent the next day complaining how he didn't get any sleep there. (Gee..really? You mean it's hot like a Hilton?) There were a few times Angela was able to come home, but within a couple of days she'd be back into the hospital via the ER needed to go back on IV antibiotics. With my sick days long gone, my employer was getting impatient, I was exhausted and desperate to find some type of solution. Finally I called the MN state dept. of human services. "Surely there is some type if funding....somewhere...that allows a parent to be a paid caregiver?"

Whatdaya know!? You bet there was! A rarely access funding source called a Consumer Support Grant. It took a month to figure out the particulars and get the REAMS of paperwork filled out. Finally on February 15th I went on Family Medical Leave, and became a stay at home mom, able to spend my whole day at the hospital helping Angela get better so she could come home.

The end of the month Angela DID come home, but it would be a long time before she could go back to school. She still had a large open wound that required frequent dressing changes. Well, that and the fact she was just plain exhausted. Instead she received Homebound Services (where a teacher comes to the home) which she wasn't exactly thrilled with. Finally the last 6 weeks of the school year she was able to go back 1/2 days. Now she was in a new school with kids she had never yet, but she thrived on it.

That was 3 years ago. Angela is still not able to attend school full-time. Medically she's much better, but physically she is easily drained, and by 1:30 is asleep in a beanbag chair. So she comes home, (but never sleeps of course). Angela was recently placed on a TBI (Traumatic Brain Injury) waiver that still allows me to be a paid caregiver, but with a wage we can actually live on.

Over the years I've learned a lot about funding sources in Minnesota, and I can tell you as long as Angela is under age 21, we'll not be leaving the state! There are just too many funding sources available here that you can't find anywhere else in the nation. You can't just GET them, as they each have their own qualification requirements, but if your child qualifies they can be the difference between having a roof over your head!

If you're in Minnesota and looking for "creative income" sources, you might want to take a look here and see if your child or your family qualifies for any of these programs.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

DARE

Like many schools across the country, Angela's 5th grade class is participating in DARE. (Drug Abuse Resistance Education) They're doing it even though Angela's teacher told me, "I don't know why we're still doing this. Studies have shown it's not effective and it takes a lot of money."

I'd love to point her to my blog below, but I digress.

At parent teacher conferences, the special ed. teacher and the mainstream teacher made it pretty clear that TO THEM it wouldn't work for Angela to participate in the DARE meetings. It's a lot of sitting and lecture type education, something that Angela doesn't do so well with. (as they said this to me, my mind was screaming "WHERE IS THE INCLUSION SPECIALIST?????") Anyway, the 5th grade would go ahead with their DARE classes, and at the end Angela could participate in the graduation program at the end.

HUH???? The couldn't really think that made sense. Participate in a program to celebrate something she hadn't learned? Yes, Angela is perfectly capeable of learning the information in the DARE book!

So for the past couple of weeks, Angela and I have been working through the workbook together. She is one smart cookie. The book gives little situations, and the students are supposed to list what the problem is in each story. Of course, Angela answers like this, "That's cigarettes! That's bad!...DUH!!!" She's so age typically sarcastic, it cracks me up.

The students in the DARE program also need to write a speech, and someone (maybe all the 5th grade teachers?) will decide don the 2 or 3 best speeches. Those students will read theirs in front of the whole 5th grade. Angela wrote her speech herself. Well, let me restate that. She doesn't "write" anything, she dictates. Hers is simple, but she wrote it herself and that's the important part. I have this secret hope that her teachers will think it's cool that she did this herself, and then choose her to read it at the graduation. But then...wouldn't that be singling her out as "special"?

I'll try to make a recording of her reading her speech and post it for you.

Goodbye Red

That's it. It's over. The riding season, that is. I know people who ride all winter and I will not hide the fact I think they're nuts. It is COLD riding this time of year! Yes, a person could spend a gazillion dollars on the RIGHT equipment for cold weather riding, but I'm not one of 'em. So, Red is put away for the winter. If I'm lucky the mice won't be making nests in my saddle bags while she waits it out. It's at least 5 whole months before I'll be on her again. Poor thing! Maybe she could hang out in our warm basement instead? It's quite cozy by the fire!