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!"

Wednesday, December 31, 2008

2008 : What do you remember?




You Remember 70% of 2008



You were paying attention during 2008.

And you remember what happened really well.



You'll be able to talk about 2008 for years to come...

Even when most people have forgotten what went down.

Monday, December 29, 2008

10, 9, 8, 7

That is me counting backward from 10 in an attempt to NOT explode!!! Our old printer wasn't compatible with the new MAC, so I bought a new wireless printer. WHY does it have to be so complicated to get this stuff hooked up? And WHY doesn't MAC have 24 hour support services? WHY WHY WHY??? Ok, other than that, so far I'm loving my mac. Really...loving it. I'm still trying to figure out some of the basics, but I'm getting there. Now, to get this printer connected to my wireless network!

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Contacting us

We have recently purchased a new computer, and are going from PC to a MAC, and are having trouble transferring our email address book to the new computer. This isn't much of a problem to us, except where our dog people are concerned. I know several of our readers are owners of our puppies, or are interested in our puppies. I also know there's a good chance I've missed recent emails from you. If you've recently tried to contact us, and not heard back, you know that's not typical for us! If you have tried to reach us, please try again at info@dandldoodles.com ! THANKS!

Movie Review: "Marley and Me"

When we found out this movie was coming out, Dean and I decided we'd go see it as a family on Christmas day. As it turned out, Angela went to her dad's for the day. I'd just like to say, "BLESSINGS sometimes come in disguises!"

If you've never read the book, read it! The movie follows the book very closely. I read the book when it first came out about 4 or 5 years ago, and the last 2 or 3 chapters must be read with a box of tissues. Dean then took the book with him to read on a flight to Arizona. When he got to about chapter 5 he put the book away...for good. "Why would I want to torture myself?" he asked?

The day before we saw the movie, we started hearing the rave reviews, AND the comments that this was advertised as a family movie AND IT'S NOT! It is VERY emotionally heavy, and you will spend the last 15-20 minutes in tears. If you've recently had to put a dog to sleep, I would NOT recommend seeing the movie, or you'll find yourself reliving it. Instead, wait till it comes out on DVD in a few months, and you might be ready. I did see several families with young kids (7-12 years old) in the theater, and after the movie I saw those same kids leaving the theater sobbing. I think it's too heavy for most kids that age.

With all that, I HIGHLY recommend the movie. For those who are thinking about getting their first dog, and wondering if they're ready, this movie will give you a good idea as to how much work a dog really needs, and what happens when you wait till your dogs is an adult to do any training. LOL It will show you all the really bad things that puppies and untrained adult dogs can do to your home. But, it will also show you the love that dogs feel for their people, no matter how naughty they are. It will show you the support people get from their dogs when they don't even realize it. It will show you the bond between a dog and his boy (or girl, as the case may be.)

And in the end, it will show you the heartache that comes with pet ownership. Watching made me want to go home and give all my dogs away so I never have to deal with "that" part of dog ownership again. It also made me want to go home and hug my dogs, and love on them even more than we already do.

So, go see the movie, but instead of bringing your kids, bring a box of tissues!

Saturday, December 27, 2008

If you see "Marley and Me"

If will make you want to come home and spend some cuddle time with your dogs. I'll do a full review of the movie tomorrow, after I've stopped wiping away the tears!

Friday, December 26, 2008

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Why Men Shouldn't take messages

This one, sent by my brother Jeff, had me laughing out loud. Why men shouldn't take messages:

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

I know you won't believe me...but



LOOK WHAT I MADE!!! I know I always say I hate cooking, and I NEVER bake, but those who know me well will remember a time when I was in high school, and I made these all the time. Some will even remember just 10 years ago when I was making yeast breads all the time. But, regardless....don't you wish you could smell the internet? And wouldn't taste be even better??? Now, what do you think? Should I just smear them directly on my hips?

Updated to add: Well, the truth comes out. I SUCK at cooking! These were the most horrible things I've ever tasted. And...to make matters worse..I gave them to my neighbors too! The rolls themselves could have been used to build the retaining wall in our back yard. And the glaze? Yeah, the mortar to hold the wall together! It's going to be months before I can look my neighbors in the eyes again. Sadly, this is the way my cooking and baking always comes out. These LOOKED good, so I figured I'd finally beat fate! Instead, the rolls beat me.

The Mom Song

I know I posted this sometime last year, but its too good not to share this newer version! ENJOY!


The Mom Song from Northland Video on Vimeo.

Monday, December 22, 2008



Please click on the Donate button on Dasha's blog to help!
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No no no! This can't be happening to another family! A couple years ago, the Newbolds only daughter, Chloe, (who had Down Syndome) lost her battle with leukemia. While still recovering from the loss of their daughter, her parents were led to help others with DS who were not so fortunate, and decided to adopt a child from Reece's Rainbow. A child with Down Syndrome. A child who was at risk of "aging out" and being moved to an institution. As it turned out, they decided to adopt TWO!

They went through the long, arduous process that is known as the adoption process, and finally traveled to Ukraine to meet their children. With Ukraine adoptions this is often a two-trip process, and theirs would be a "two for one" type of adoption, saving them THOUSANDS of dollars, and a child's life. Sadly, when they got to little Dasha they discovered that she'd not been available long enough, and would have to wait several months before bringing her home, but they DID bring John Paul home with them!

The months past, and as they bonded with John Paul, they longed for their daughter who they'd held, and loved, but could not bring home. All the while scraping together the necessary funds for Dasha's adoption and travel to get her.

They are now in Ukraine, and had a bombshell dropped upon them. Please read their story here.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

What can we do?

Thanks to my blog-friend for posting this. Please watch this video in it's entirety. Please don't turn away from it because you're "not in the mood for it." or because "it's too heavy." or "too hard to watch. Little Jane, shown in the video, doesn't get to choose not to go about her day because it's too difficult to watch.



So, what can we do to make a difference? What can my family do? What can your family do? Can you adopt? Can you pledge a financial contribution? Can you find one thing your family can do to help? I'm going to try....are you?

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Sorry, more time warp stuff

Ok, now this one cracks me up? Please tell me I wasn't the only one creeped out by the sleestacks, and that your heart beat just a little faster when, every day, Alice found them! Or what about when they messed with the weather rocks? And what was the little furry kid's name? Paco or something like that? Yeah, I wanted to find a little furry creature like that.

One of my favorites

This show was one of my favorites! Do you think our kids would watch this low-budget stuff today? Ok, I'm off to find Sleestacks now.

Another Blast from the Past

Wow, do these videos bring back memories or what? And Kathy...I think the Crofts spent a lot of time imbibing, or something along those lines. ;-)

Angela visits with THE REAL Santa

First of all, I have to explain the haircut. When I told they stylist, "I don't want it past the chin." I should have been more specific. I meant I don't want it SHORTER than her chin. She thought I meant "I don't want it longer than her chin." UGH! Now she looks like a boy again. Oh well, it'll grow back. Anyway, here's Angela meeting THE REAL Santa. He and I met while doing the play. This guy is amazing, and...I kid you not...jingles when he walk, even when he's not wearing the red suit!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Reposting: Who Made The Rule?

A friend of mine posted about this today on her blog, and so I'm going to RE-Post mine with notes now that I've been using the system for several months, read, enjoy, and think about how you hate the system you currently have. LOL

..........................

Who made the rule that says, "All clothing, after being washed and dried, must be folded and put away into drawers and closets." I've never seen that rule in writing, but I want to know where it came from!

I happen to hate this rule, because...frankly...I suck at getting any of this done! At one time I had 5 kids in the house and I was FAR more organized about laundry then than I am now. But even then, there would often be a mountain in the laundry room!

So here I am, with only 3 of us to do laundry for, and I can't keep up. This is silly though, because I'm no longer working outside the home, so clearly it's a priorty thing. I just hate laundry, the same way I hate cooking and I suck at that too. The laundry that DOES get clean rarely makes it back upstairs to bedrooms, closets and dressers. Instead it stays in baskets in the laundry room, and every morning we each go dig in there for socks, underwear, and whatever else we need. Occasionally I have a caffiene date with myself and get a ton of it done AND folded and put away! But...sadly...this is rare.

A couple weeks ago I asked my husband to do something for me. I told him about the silly rule and how it doesn't have to be this way. There really is no such rule and so no reason to live by it. I wanted a set of shelves in the laundry room. Well, really I wanted several sets...one for each person, then some for that oddball laundry like linens and towels. I drew it all out, and after making many promises to fold everything as it comes out of the dryer, he built them for me. The laundry room is now just one giant dresser! When the clothes come out of the dryer, I simply fold, turn around, and place on the appropriate person's shelf. All the clothes in the house are in ONE ROOM, and I can EASILY see when Dean or the kids is getting low on clean underwear and socks! ;-)

Dean is actually loving these shelves, since it's right next to "his" bathroom. Every morning he goes to the laundry room...I mean family closet...picks out his clothes that are easy to see and find, then heads to the shower.

This is also helpful for Angela, who is really wanting nothing to do with Mom picking out her clothes each day anymore. So I bought her this really cool daily clothing stacker thing from Lillian Vernon.



So, I'm removing the dressers from her room, because A) her room is crowded and b) she doesn't need them anymore. On Sundays we pull her clothes for the week from the laundry room, and put them in her are in her daily stacker which hangs in her closet, and she has happily been getting up each morning, pulling out her clothes for that day, and putting them on! And...tricky mom that I am...when the clothes don't match the forcast for the next day, I sneak in there before she gets up and switch 'em! LOL

Maybe tomorrow I'll take some pictures of my laundry room. Now it needs paint and flooring.....sigh.....
....................................................

So we've now been using this system for several months. A friend of mine tried to duplicate it but found out the hard way you have to do the shelves the right way. First, do NOT use shelves like these:


The reason these shelves are bad is because they're too wide, so the stacks of clothes will fall over, and end up being just as much a mess as the mountains on the floor were. You'll quickly find that you hate these shelves. Instead, have your handy dandy husband build you shelves using melamine. Build towers that are no more than 14 inches wide. (just wide enough for folded clothing, and it will keep your stacks nice and neat. For little kids clothes it will hold two stacks, while still keeping them neat) Attach the shelves to the walls. You can leave a space between shelves to have hanging areas if you wish. (If I get my new camera for Christmas I promise to take a picture of what we did. It works REALLY well!)

Decide how much space each person needs. We have only 3 people in our house, Dean, Angela, and myself so our space is easy. ALL of our clothes (not just seasonal) are on these shelves, so we need a fair amount of space for each person. Each person needs 2 sets of shelves that have 5 levels, 14 inches wide x 24 inches high. Kid's shelves can be a bit more narrow, around 8-12 inches.

So, each person has 2 sets of shelves right next to each other. On the bottom (on the cement) of each I have decorative baskets. One holds socks, the other underwear. (I don't fold underwear. LOL And Angela's is "underwear/swimming suits" ) The other shelves are organized to t-shirts, sweat shirts/sweaters, long sleeve shirts, pants, shorts, pj's  On the top shelf, which is harder for me to reach, I have stuff that isn't worn very often.

There is one set of shelves for just towels and a wider set for bedding.

I'm still waiting for Dean to build me one more set of shelves. These will be wider, and will hold bedding.
...............................
Another update:
another friend of mine has also converted to this system. Her laundry room is barely big enough for her washer and dryer, but her dining room? Yeah, well the table has never been used for anything other than a laundry folding table, and they NEVER eat in there! So her husband built the shelves they needed for each family member, plus a hanging area, and they now have a family closet. EVERYONE in the house is much happier! And, mom is often folding clothes while her home-schooled kids are at that very table...the one that used to be full of laundry...working on lessons right there with her guidance. PERFECT!

Friday, December 12, 2008

Flashback Friday

Do you remember these guys?

Feel'in it Friday!

Happy Friday everyone! This week felt really long, and really short, all at the same time. Monday came and went in a stressful way that I already posted about. Tuesday was ok. Got Dudley groomed, which was an all-day affair. Wednesday Tyler came over to celebrate his birthday. (and I paid him 5 bucks to dig our tree out of the storage room. Now if only I could pay someone to decorate it. LOL) Thursday I got most of my Christmas shopping done, with just a couple odds and ends of things left, and then a performance last night.

And yet, I'm feeling like a looser. I'm not getting enough stuff done in the house, and I don't even have a good excuse for it. I have a stack of paperwork for Angela's waiver that needs tending to, laundry to collect out of bedrooms, and an office that still isn't clean. (although it's because I have no clue what to do with the stuff in here! )

Today my plans are to get myself in the shower, run to the store and get snacks/drinks for Angela and drop them off at her school. Come back and switch a load of laundry around, then get Angela's waiver papers done. THEN I will allow myself to take a nap, because I'm going to need one in order to make it through tonight's performance and the cast party afterward.

I think I'm so tired lately because of the play. Ok, I KNOW that's what it is. Most plays run 12-14 performances, and this one...when we're finally done...will be double that! We have two performances tomorrow, two on Sunday, then next week we have Weds, Thurs, Fri, double Sat, double Sun. then we're DONE! Never again will I do a play with such a long run. It's really fun DOING it, but it screws up everything else in life. I don't know how the rest of the cast manages to work full-time jobs AND do this play.

I promise, once this show is done, no more depressing posts! LOL Ok, I'm off to the shower so I can get my list done, and get that nap I was talking about.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Congratulations!

Congratulations to Shelley and her family. Her kids will be the lucky recipients of a personalized video from Santa. On Saturday morning Angela and I will deliver a VERY special letter to Santa, and we'll get to see his reindeer too! All of that will be caught on video and sent to Shelley's kids for Christmas.

I know that all things happen for a reason, and today I know that Shelley's kids were meant to get a video from Santa! I can't wait to send it to them! I got to meet with Santa tonight, and tell him a little about the kids he'll be talking to on the video. He's very excited!!!

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Totally Tuesday

Today was a MUCH better day for Angela! She woke up on her own, and came out to the kitchen where I was making breakfast. She wrapped her arms around me in a big sleepy hug and "Good morning. I yuff you mom." That just about makes up for all the rotten mornings!

She ate breakfast, got dressed, teeth and hair brushed, and was out the door in 25 minutes, smiling all the way! That's how her mornings USUALLY go!

According to the note I got in her planner, school was great as well, and she got to feed Bert the Iguana his crickets. (eeeeeeeeewwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwww) After school she was invited to her friend Adam's house to play.

When Adam's mom brought her home, Adam was very sad she wasn't going swimming with him. He came to my door with big crocodile tears, and I just wanted to wrap my arms around him. Angela adores Adam, and when he left she said, "I'm sad Adam has tears. I love Adam."

She was a little disappointed tonight though. The reason we didn't go swimming is because it's Tyler's birthday and he was supposed to be coming over for cake. Unfortunately he was a bit inconsiderate and forgets how much his sister DEPENDS on everyone following through, and he ended up going to work instead. (his choice, he wasn't required to go.) I made him PROMISE he'd be here tomorrow night! Of course, it messed up our plans for today AND tomorrow, but Angela really wants to see her brother, and I'm busy with the play the rest of the week. Oh well, such is life.

I did get Dudley groomed today! I usually do most of our grooming myself, but lately, being really busy with with the play, I've gotten WAY behind and Dudley was an embarrassing mess. I know he didn't feel very good about the himself either. Even his beard smelled, making Dean and I unwilling to pet him very long. I feel horrible that I let him get to this condition! Well, a few weeks ago I made a new friend who is a groomer, so we're trading grooming services for training services. She's showing me some things that I needed to learn as far as grooming goes, and I'm helping her with one of her dogs that has developed some annoying habits they're not sure how to deal with. And, most importantly, Dudley came home clean, matt-free, and happy!

Tomorrow I have a meeting with a local college, as I explore my options for going back to school. You know, at 41 years old I'm still trying to figure out what I want to be when I grow up. LOL Right now I'm looking at the Sonography Technician program. (AKA Ultrasound tech) with my focus on maternal fetal sonography. This does need some prayer though! The program I'm trying to get into is highly competitive! They'll be looking at my previous GPA's. High school's is hopefully obsolete, because 25 years ago I was a different person, and graduated at the bottom of my class. But, three years later when I went to interpreter training I had a GPA of 3.9! Also, since I never took that ACT's, I'll have to take an entrance exam, and only the top 20 scores (plus qualifying GPA) will get into the program. UGH! The reading and writing I'll be fine with, it's the math portion of the test that will do me in. Tomorrow I'll take a practice test, then I have to take the real one by March 15th. By April 1st I'll find out if I've been accepted for the Sept. 2009 start date, and can begin the process of applying for financial aid.

So, what do you want to be when YOU grow up????

Monday, December 08, 2008

Well happy *&%$ Monday!

Ok, I got Angela to school. She was one hour late, but she was clean and smiling by the time we got there. That's a good thing, right? I question weather it's a good idea for anyone at school to give her a hard time about being late. That would be giving her attention for the attention seeking behavior, which would greatly increase the possibility of a repeat performance.

Then again, NOT saying something is probably the most difficult thing for me to do! It's really hard not to get frustrated and mad at the kid when you're watching the bus pull away and she's still standing naked in the bathroom. I just wish I knew how to better handle this. Clearly I'm doing SOMETHING wrong, but WHAT?? Somebody just tell me WHAT I'm doing wrong!

We have a behavior specialist that started coming just before Thanksgiving. Today will be her 3rd or 4th visit. She's here for an hour and a half and has been PLAYING with Angela. Now, I do have to say the "playing" has been choreographed in such a way that the specialist can see where Angela's limits are, what might set her off, etc. Also, there IS a "get aquainted" period before she just starts pushing Angela's buttons all over the place. But...you know... there is A LOT of money going out the door for someone to come "play" with my kid. AND, after this morning, I don't want to watch them "play" anymore. I want someone to give me the scripts to say to Angela when there is a behavior explosion (because that's what they are, explosions) or when there is a flat out refusal to cooperate, like this morning. I mean, Angela is very much like a 5-7 year old, and she's DOING stuff that a child that age would WANT to say or do, but doesn't because they would get into trouble. But, Angela does it anyway because she WANTS that attention, or just doesn't have the impulse control to NOT do those things. (Yeah, you might have to make a graph for that statement to make any sense at all.) But no matter what the reason is, I need help with it.

It's going to be a long day

How do I know it's going to be a long day? Because Angela's bus left 10 minutes ago, only Angela wasn't on it. No, instead she's standing in the bathroom, screaming swear words at me because I told her she can't go to school until she's taken a bath.

She came home from her dad's last night, and although I know she had a bath while she was there, she REEKS of cigarette smoke and urine. It's awful, and it's disgusting. Never mind the fact that she has asthma and nobody is supposed to be smoking around her. She hates baths and showers, only we don't know why. She used to love them, then one day someone flipped a switch and we couldn't get her in there any more. I'm thinking she fell in the shower at her dad's or something. Who knows. It's been like this for well over a year and I'm just plain tired of the battle. I don't understand why it has to be so difficult. Why is this her biggest problem area? And so, this morning, we're in a battle of the wills, because if I cave and let her go to school without the bath, I'll never get her in the bath before school again.

As she always does, she came home from her dad's exhausted. Her hearing aids were in her backpack because he said, "I don't know how to put them on." You gotta be kidding me? She's been wearing hearing aids since she was 11 months old. It takes about a fraction of one second to pop each aid in her ear. Seriously, there is nothing to it.

She always comes home from her dad's swearing constantly. Clearly he shows no restraint in his language when she's there, and this drives me crazy. What drives me even MORE crazy is that I can't do ANYTHING about it. Not one, tiny thing. I've tried going through court, saying this is abuse of a child who is not cognitively able to sort out the "bad words" from the appropriate words at school, which ends up getting her into trouble because HE is an idiot and can't control his mouth around her. He doesn't care about her. He only cares about weather or not his family thinks he's being a good dad or not. It's all in the appearance, ya know? Dean is her "dad". Dean would do anything for her. Her father would do anything for her, as long as it didn't interfere with his plans.

And so, this morning is just one of many when she comes home from a weekend visit with her father, where I know I'm going to have to deal with the fall-out for several days. Thankfully the behavior specialist comes today. I sure hope they do more than just PLAY today! I need to know what to do with the behavioral problems!

Angela is now naked in the bathroom, so at least that's progress. Still not in the water though. School started one minute ago.

Friday, December 05, 2008

True or False?


In October we bred our dog Zurri. Let me rephrase that...we TRIED to breed Zurri. First, we found out the stud we've had lined up for a year was sterile. $300 to find out a dog that isn't ours doesn't have what it takes.

Then we had to scramble to find a new stud within 24 hours. (this is difficult when you're looking for certain criteria, like has the dog gotten their hip/elbow/heart/thyroid certifications?) The new stud arrived to our house extremely overweight, and was too fat to do the job! UGH! We ended up having to do an artificial insemination instead. Another $300.

Then on what would have been day 30, we did an ultrasound to confirm the pregnancy, only to find NO PUPPIES! Cost? $100

Because this was AI, and sometimes timing is fluky, we repeated the ultrasound the following week. Still no puppies, but we weren't charged for the U/S.

Now, try telling the dog, who clearly wants to be a mother, that she's not pregnant! She's going through a false pregnancy. And yet, in the back of my mind I think "she could be hiding ONE in there!" She's gained 6 pounds, her nipples have changed, and she's lost her tuck. I know breeders who've had this happen, so I know it's possible. Well, it's possible to have all these changes and NO puppy, and it's possible to have all these changes, yet see none on ultrasound, and still have one puppy. While one puppy would pay for all our breeding costs listed above, a singleton puppy is never what a breeder wants. Granted, we have a good stable pack here so the puppy would get the teaching it needs, but a singleton misses something in puppy development that the breeder has to bend over backwards to replicate.

Well, my dog who isn't supposed to be pregnant keeps getting herself stuck under the back deck, trying to make herself a den. This behavior is normally seen at this stage of a pregnancy when the mother is trying to find a safe place to deposit puppies. They're not always smart about this though, and find weird places. Wouldn't the warm "den" we have for her in the house be more desireable than outside under the deck when it's 10 degrees outside?

Anyway, this morning she was REALLY stuck. It's a big deck, so she was about 15 feet away from the opening and couldn't get turned around. I thought I was going to have to start pulling boards off to get her out. Finally I went and got a hot dog (this dog will do ANYTHING for hot dogs!) and went to the hole where she had gone in. The noise from under the deck sounded like she was remodeling under there! Finally she managed to get out, snarfed down her hot dog, then tried to go under again. GAH! I caught her just in the nick of time. We'll have to watch her close. The vet said she's had some dogs with a false pregnancy go as far as starting early labor before their body realizes it's useless. I sure hope we won't have THAT going on! Then again...one puppy would pay for the money we have into this breeding. And one puppy is easier in some ways than the litters of 13 that we've had in the past.

If the breeding stuck, her due date is December 11th (give or take a couple of days) so I guess we'll just keep watching her!

Theater Ghosts

Did you know that all old theaters have ghosts? No, really, it's true! Last night the ghost at the Main Street Stage in Anoka was up to no good! There were all kinds of weird things happening during the performance last night. Props falling. Piano key's being plunked when there was no piano around. WEIRD stuff!

Just before intermission I take Roman out to pee. When we come back in we come down a flight of stairs into the shop (where all the sets are built) This shop leads into the backstage area, and all sounds from the shop feed right out the audience.

So, we're coming back in, walking down the steps with Roman ahead of me. On the very last step SOMETHING tripped me. It wasn't my long skirt. It wasn't Roman. It was more like someone stuck their foot out in front of me. I went flying forward, landing against a huge table saw, which made a big noise as it scraped on the floor a couple inches before running into a cabinet. THANKFULLY Roman had been a little slow outside, and Act 1 was over and the houselights were up. That means the audience was noisy so they wouldn't have been able to hear the noise from backstage. Anyway, several cast members came running from the green room to see who fell, or what the big noise was. I wasn't hurt or anything, it was just weird.

Now, this doesn't seem like a big deal, I know. It was just that incident combined with the 10 other things that happened during the show that were weird! I don't think any of it was noticeable to the audience, but it sure was to us cast members!

Including tonight we have 7 performances done, and 15 performances left. I'm already tired. LOL

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Don't forget the contest!

I had a different post here, but deleted it. Please, don't forget the contest!

THIS is what I'm trying to help prevent for little Masha! THIS is a very real possibility for any child with DS in an Eastern European orphanage. THIS is their reality, people.

20 years ago




On this morning 20 years ago....

On the evening of December 2nd, 1988, the day before my due date with baby #2, I just KNEW that if we didn't get a Christmas tree that night, it would never happen. My husband Kevin and I loaded 15 month old Noah into the car, and drove to a nearby tree lot. It was super cold that night, and snowing heavily, but we got our tree. When we got home, Kevin insisted we let the tree stand overnight before decorating it, then promptly fell asleep on the couch.

I got Noah fed, and put to bed, and sat on the couch myself. Somewhere deep inside my being a switch was flipped, and it's called "nesting". LOL I headed up to the attic and brought down all the Christmas boxes. Up and down the stairs I went, lugging my heavy belly. I think I made 5 or 6 trips, all while Kevin lay sleeping on the couch.

On my big belly I crawled under the tree and screwed the tree stand screws into the trunk, and even got it straight! Then I decorated the tree, and within a couple hours got the entire house decorated, all while my little family slept.

Finally I was done, so I packed up the excess and lugged the boxes back up the attic. At 1:00 in the morning, when I finally sat down on the couch to admire my work, it occurred to me that I had a slight back-ache. I woke Kevin up to come to bed, and soon fell sound asleep myself.

December 3rd, 1988, 4:30 AM. I woke up with a start and sat straight up in bed. Oh MAN did my back hurt! Wow...ok...that's not really my back. THAT would be a contraction. Hmm...wow...that was pretty strong. I looked over to Kevin's spot. Wow, he's already gone to work! I didn't even hear him leave. I layed back down, and there it was again. That was awfully quick, and...umm...strong! I got up and went to the bathroom, but had to stop on the stairs for another contraction. They were about 2 minutes apart!

I called Kevin at work. Fortunately it was just a few miles away. "You need to come home, it's time to go!"

"What? I just walked in the door!" (it was probably the door slam as he walked out the door that woke me up just a few mintues before. LOL)

"Doesn't matter. Come home."

By the time Kevin got home I was dressed, and was just getting little Noah out of his crib. I think watching us would have been like watching one of those movies where one person is moving in slow motion and the rest of the world has been sped up double time. As I struggled to just tie my shoe, Kevin raced around me bringing stuff to the car. During that time we realized we'd never made arrangments for someone to watch Noah! Kevin called his mom who lived just a few minutes away. He put Noah into the car, and I waddled my way to the door, only to find....HE'D LEFT!!! I couldn't believe he left without me!

I called my mom. "Mom! He left without me! Can you believe it?" I stood in the doorway talking to my mom and watched for him to come back, having 3 contractions that I couldn't talk through.

Kevin came squealing into the driveway, got me into the car, and we were on our way. The hospital was only about 6 miles from home, but on city streets with lots of stop lights. It felt like as soon as I'd have on contraction another would start. When I had Noah, my water had broken at home, so I was waiting for it to happen in the car this time. It never did though!

When we got to the hospital they stuck a monitor on me, and my contractions were still at 2 minutes, but I was only 1 cm dialated! WHAT?? You gott be kidding me! I have an awful lot of work ahead of me yet! The doctor left my room saying, "When the contractions change, call the nurse."

I had 2 more contactions and I called the nurse back in to check me again. "We just checked you, you're fine." After some pestering she agreed to check me. I was at 5 cm's! Wow! The doctor came back in and broke my water. "When you feel the urge to push, call the nurse and we'll check you again."

I had one contraction and called the nurse back in. "I WANTED to push with that one, please check me again." Well, that nurse got cranky with me and refused to check me. We were still agruing about it when the next contraction hit. As she watched the monitor, and watched me, I started yelling "Oh my god! I'm going to PUSH!!!" as I GLARED at her. She checked me after that contractiong, "Oh my god, you're at 10! How did you get to TEN????"

She called the doctor in "Stat", and he came running just as another contraction hit me. He gave me the go ahead to push and out came Tyler's big head! I'd been at the hospital for only 1/2 hour, and here he was!

Tyler Ray was born weighing 8 lbs 8 0z, and 22 inches long. He had sandy blonde hair and blue eyes. Tyler came out screaming....and proceded to scream for the next 3 years.

Tyler's life has held many surprises over the years, all of which have tought me things I never thought I'd need to know.

Happy birthday Tyler Ray!

Monday, December 01, 2008

It's a Raffle!

Well, it's kind of like a raffle anyway. LOL

Like many families I know right now, my friends Randy and Sheila Green over at The Sunflower Chronicles are in the process of adopting another little girl with DS through Reece's Rainbow. Last winter they brought home Lera, and are ready to make the trip again to bring Masha home!

For those who are new to my site, please go read at Reece's Rainbow about adopting children with special needs from Eastern European countries. For most of these children, their 4th birthday is often a death sentence. When they turn 4, they leave the baby homes and are sent to an institution where they are no longer considered adoptable. Many die within the first year due to sickness, malnutrition and/or dehydration. Those who live face a life like this one! But Masha is one lucky girl! She has a family waiting for her! But these adoptions, for these children who's lives depend on it, are very expensive. Since I'd love to save every child, but am in no position to adopt, I'd like to help in whatever way I can. A few weeks ago, I found a way!

You see, I met THE REAL Santa Claus! Really...I met him! No joking people, this guy even jingles when he walks! Not only did I meet him, but I am working with him several times over the next few weeks! Santa loves our kids too, and has agreed to help me with my very special project!

Imagine your child getting a personalized VIDEO from Santa!

On December 13th, I (along with my video camera) will be taking ONE very special letter to Santa. He will read it out loud, and maybe even answer a question or two. His REAL reindeer will be there too! Oh, to be the child who gets to see the REAL Santa, reading THEIR letter...right there on their TV! Wouldn't that be exciting????

So, here's your chance to win this for your child. All you have to do is donate $5 to the ChipIn widget located at the bottom of this post, AND LEAVE A COMMENT at the bottom of this blog, then prepare a short letter for Santa from your child. On December 12th, I'll have Angela pull a name from among those who donated. I'll ask you to email me that special letter, along with a couple personal details about your child that will be included in Santa's message. (if you have more than one child, all your children's names will be included so nobody is left out!) The video will be made on Saturday, December 13th, and will be prepared for your viewing pleasure. A DVD will be rush shipped to your address before Christmas!

This contest ends December 11th. Only 11 days folks, so spread the word, and lets help bring Masha home!!!

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Burnout

"Burnout" is what I'm anticipating the week before Christmas. Here's a link to the play schedule. Take a look at the last week of the play! Oh....My....GAWD!!! Ok, I knew this before, but I didn't really PAY ATTENTION to it. (there is a huge difference, by the way.) I'm just getting over this horrible cold I've had all week, but I know...by looking at the schedule...that I'm going to be praying for good health that week before Christmas. My tendency is to get run down, which is how I get sick. So, here's to EXCELLENT HEALTH the ENTIRE month of December! LOL

No, I need to go find some fun stuff to write about. Nobody had any questions for me, so I have to come up with my own material. LOL This morning I told Angela we need to get going on her blog, and she promptly disappeared. LOL

Hey, go vote for my kid!

One of my bloggy friends has an incredibly talented husband! Seriously, look around on his blog at some of his artwork! Anyway, he's putting together a calendar, with the drawings based on photos submitted of kids who have DS. Angela (number 18 when you get there) could use some votes! So, what are you waiting for? GO VOTE HERE!

Friday, November 28, 2008

HOM furniture...will it ever end?

Warning, this post is of the whining variety. Yes, I'm very thankful for what we have, and what we have the ability to have, and understand that in the current economy ANYONE is at risk of loosing it all in a heartbeat. But still....I'm irritated....

You may remember my posts about HOM furniture, and the issues we were having with them. Well, let me tell you the latest....

First, we received a full refund for the entertainment center, but hadn't been able to find anything to replace it. We paid over $2,500 for this thing, and bought the TV afterward. We picked THIS entertainment center because it could be completely closed, protecting the expensive electronics it held from flying remotes when Angela gets into a mood. We were also able to lock it so that she couldn't open it if we didn't want her to. Since HOM didn't have anything else that suited our needs (that we could close and lock and hold the huge TV we bought to go on the other one), and after MUCH negotiation, they gave us our refund.

But there was still the issue of the leather sectional, which we also paid over $2500 for. Both Dean and I loved our sectional, but we didn't like the defects! So HOM agreed to send us "replacement pieces" for the sectional. The sectional had one love seat, and one chair that were defective. (the color was peeling off the piping on the seams. The rest of the couch was dyed leather, as ALL the parts were supposed to be. But the piping was painted vynly instead) When they say "replacement pieces", what does that mean to you? To me it meant they were going to replace those two pieces of the sectional. BUT I WAS SO WRONG! When the tech showed up in September, he arrived with two COVERS that he was going to sew onto the couch. Yeah, they were new leather COVERS...the he would sit in my living room and SEW ON to the couch! Ummmmm NOT HAPPENING! I am not dumb enough to believe that this couch would EVER be the same again.

We spent THREE months dealing with HOM again, but they would not budge. They would not give us a refund on the couch, instead offering us a store credit. So three weeks ago Dean and I went to pick out a new couch. I don't know if they really didn't have anything I liked, or if I was just determined to not like anything in the store. It's all crap in my mind. Anyway, Dean found a sofa/loveseat/ottoman that he liked. It's ok. We had about $400 left over so went looking through the store to figure out what else we could buy. Well, the following week everything in the store went BIG sale, so we went back and had the price dropped significantly, leaving us enough to also get an entertainment console for under the TV (still bums me out that we can't get what we really NEED for the tv) with a few dollars left so Dean picked out a couple accsent candles. LOL

We weren't expecting anything to be delivered until Dec. 14th, but they called the day before Thanksgiving to say they could come today. So they arrive, and one of the guys was really quite annoying. He asked why they were picking up the sectional, "What's wrong with it?" he asked? I showed him where the color was peeling off it. "Oh, that'll happen with heavy usage." HEAVY USAGE? This stuff started peeling TWO MONTHS after we got it! Then he commented on "yeah, if you don't spend the money on the good stuff, that's what happens." Ok...this is just a delivery guy right?

They bring in the couch, and I hate it. It is exactly what we ordered, so they got that right. I just hate it because I really liked our sectional. Not only that, but we decorated around the color of our sectional (that was kind of a cherry brown), and this one is very much the wrong color for what we've done in the living room.....sigh.....But, it doesn't have any defects that we can see, so that's good, right? Be thankful Leah, just be thankful.

Then they bring in the enterainment console. They barely had it unwrapped from the plastic and I can see two problems with it. First, there is a big (3-4 inches) scratch across the top of it that someone has tried to cover with a TOTALLY different collor stain! (like, this is light brown and they used something close to BLACK) and then there's a nick off the front that they tried to cover with yet another color. I then checked all the doors and see that where they have GOOPED on stain, it's already flaking off, and once one of the doors is closed a couple of times it's going to have big chips in it.

We had the delivery guys take the console back, and since it's in stock a different one will be delivered tomorrow. The annoying guy *almost* had me speak my mind to him when he made more comments. I'm going to talk to customer service about this, because it was totally uncalled for by one of their DELIVERY guys. I'm so disgusted with the furniture industry as a whole right now. But he is right though, we're buying CRAP, yet paying a lot of money for it! I'd love to find a store that sells decent stuff. There are a couple, but we'll be spending significantly more than the $6,000 we spent for crap.

By the way, if you're in MN, all the stores (Schneidermans, HOM, Becker, Slumberland) order from the SAME companies and the same catalogs. We know...we've been in every one of them and looked through all their catalogs! So don't think you're going to see something in one store that you won't see in another. They only difference you MIGHT find is the price, and if you tell them that Store A will sell it to you for $x, you're likely to get the price down even more. But again, the stuff is all crap. You're better off to find some amish guy to build you from 100% wood (no laminate, no filler, no but solid wood!) and get it exactly the way you want.
As for us, we're still looking for that Amish guy.
*edited to add*: This post gets A LOT of traffic from google searches. If you've also bought from HOM furniture, and had problems, please leave a comment! 

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Lumps

Oh, another quick post. Last night Tyler was here to sell me stuff (another post for when I'm feeling better). While he was sitting next to me, he turned his head to say something to Dean, and that's when I saw it. A HUGE lump on the side of his neck, right behind the tendon that runs along the neck to shoulder. I couldn't take my eyes off it. As soon as I had a chance, I felt it. ROCK HARD! I know it's a lymph node, but it is ROCK HARD. He says he has another one like that on the back of his knee. They're not sore or swollen...just HUGE and ROCK HARD! The one on his neck is AT LEAST the size of a golf ball. UGH! He has to get into the doctor and get checked out. No health insurance...nothing....ugh!

So, if you could please pray for this little development, I would sure appreciate it. In the meantime, I'm going to pretend to not worry about it.

Greetings

A few days ago I started coming down with the cast cold. This is the cold that is started by one cast member, and through the course of the run is passed to everyone else in the cast. Now, it's my turn. It's just a bad cold, but man...I feel miserable!

So, this morning Angela got up at 6:00 (yeah, and on her own even!) ate breakfast, took a shower (where's my "gasp" emoticon?) got dressed and left for school. All the while, all I could think about was crawling back into bed as soon as she left.

And then I looked at my calendar.

Today is my turn to be "door greeter" at the middle school. You know, the person who makes sure nobody enters the building without signing in, gives them directions (I haven't a clue, really, how this school is laid out. LOL)I signed up for this months ago. It's only an hour and 15 minutes. I should be able to handle that, right? I promise to cover my face for all sneezes and coughs, which are plentiful right now. I might even put on make-up, just so I look semi-human, although at the moment I barely have the energy to find clothes, much less put on make-up. So, 2 1/2 hours from now I can crawl back into bed. I can hardly wait!

Friday, November 21, 2008

Opening Night

I'm sitting here, with a very old face! You see, I have to age myself for my role in the play. I wonder if this is what I'll look like in 40 years? Since my skin now looks like I've been smoking for 100 years, I doubt it. LOL

I've managed to get my make-up routing down to an hour and a half. I'm getting better and better at making my face look realistic. It's a long process..

Step 1) Cleanse my skin of all oils/make-up
Step 2) WHILE STRETCHING THE SKIN WITH ONE HAND...use the other hand to paint liquid latex on my eye lids, then blow dry with HOT dryer, then powder. I learned the hard way that I have to powder BEFORE releasing the stretched skin! If you do that, the skin sticks to itself, and I've been stuck with my eyelid folded in half. LOL

Step 3) step two on other eye lid, then lower eye/crowfoot area.

Step 4) Use spirit gum to adhere facial mole or wart to face. Today it's in the crease between my nose and cheek, and has a hair sticking out of it. Lovely!

Step 5) Paint spirit gum on labial folds, tapping with one finger until tacky.

Step 6) QUICKLY (before spirit gum dries) repeat on labial folds (those would be the ones from your nose to your mouth.) STRETCH FACE AS FAR AS POSSIBLE OR I WON'T GET GOOD WRINKLES!

Step 7) Repeat for other side of face.

Step 8) Repeat on forhead/bridge of nose.

DO NOT get liquid latex in eyelashes, eyebrows, or let any of your hair fall into the latex while you're drying it. If you do, plan on loosing that hair/eyelashes, or eyebrows.

Step 9) The powder I'm putting on is custom mixed (by me) to my skin color. Now that my faces is sufficiently stretched and wrinkled, I have to touch up all the makeup.

Step 10) add eyeliner.

step 11) color lips a natural color. I haven't tried wrinkling my lips yet, and don't think I'm going to!

Now my face is done. I wish I had a camera so I could take pictures of the process! Since I can't, here's a link to a site that shows the process. http://sapsema.org/broadbnd.html This man is older than me, so he's able to get better wrinkles than I am with the latex. Mine are mostly around my eyes and mouth, with a sort of leathery/weathered look to my cheek area and forehead.

Once this is done, eating is tough, since opening my mouth a lot makes the latex stretch and I start to loose wrinkles. So I start this at 3:00, and performance isn't done till around 9:00, and then I have to wait till I'm out of costume. It's often 10:00 before I can think about eating anything, and by then I'm STARVING!

Well, gotta run to opening night!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Do you "do" theater?

If there is a community theater near you, have you gone to see one of their shows? Community theaters often have some of the best actors around, and also allows those who've always wanted to try it but were afraid to, a chance!

The holiday season will find community theaters doing all kinds of amazing productions, with directors saving their best tricks for these shows! Seats are much cheaper than big stage productions (usually somewhere around $15-$20). Going to a show is a great holiday tradition to start with your family! Years ago, every year for Christmas my parents would bring us all the a local theater. (It happens to be an expensive one, which is supposed to be code for very high quality acting. ) I LOVED doing this, and always wanted to be on that stage.

In high school I was far too shy, and far too unpopular to try out for any of the plays. Finally, when I was 27 I did my first show. I WAS HOOKED! Not only did I have the guts to audition, but I got the lead! And then I got the lead in the next 3 productions I was in as well! I went several years where I just didn't have the time to do any plays, and then one day I heard there were auditions being held for "Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat." The best part? They were less than a block from my house! I played several roles in that play: One of the wives, an egyptian dancer (in the jail scene), and a shepard. I loved doing that play, but then again, musicals are my favorites!

Angela's favorites are the musicals, but she really loves to watch all plays. When I did Seussical last year she came to over 1/2 the rehearsals with me, and by performance time knew ALL the music, and ALL the lines. During breaks or after rehearsal she could often be found on the stage doing her favorite parts. (By the way, if Seussical ever shows near you, the music is WONDERFUL and every director has a different but very intresting interpretation of the script. It's a fantastic family show!)

So look up your local community theater, and see what's on stage this holiday season!

busy busy busy

Wow, life is REALLY busy right now! This week is "tech week" for the play. Saturday and Sunday were full-day rehearsals as we got all the lighting cues worked out. Last night was our first rehearsal in costume, and tonight is full-dress. Meaning make-up, costumes, everything. It's like the real thing. Tomorrow's rehearsal is open to friends and family, and Thursday's rehearsal is open to some senior group. Friday is opening night.

Although we didn't have to be in make-up last night, I was. You see, I play an crabby old lady, which means I have to do a lot of prep work to my face. The director also wanted me to mess around with a wart on my face, so yesterday I was in full make-up.

Yesterday morning I went shopping for make-up to make me wrinkle and age. Once I'd paid for the necessary supplies I felt like a kid who'd just gotten a new toy and couldn't wait to get home to play with it! It takes about an hour and a half to age my face and then put make-up over the top of it. AND, if your skin is still young and has good cologen, it's tough to get good wrinkles! Yesterday I discovered that my face is still in great shape! But, by the time I finished I looked like I'd been smoking for a hundred years. LOL The first time I did it, I fiddled with the laytex too much and it started peeling off, so I had to peel my entire face and start over. OUCH! The latex hurts coming off (especially the eyelids.) if you don't use spirit gum remover.

The director really liked how I did my make-up, and particularly my warts! But during last night's rehearsal I did discover I need to attach my warts differently, as one of them started coming off and threatened to make it's escape during the street scene. LOL The little girl who plays opposite me doesn't really like to make eye-contact with people, but it's really important for this scene, so last night I told her, "Ok, tonight you have to look at my warts, and tomorrow night you have to FIND the wart, cuz it's going to be in a different place!"

Yep, the director and I decided to have some fun with this a little bit, and have a "traveling" wart. The kids get to guess where the wart is going to be each night. LOL This ought to prove interesting with 24 performances! (I listed 19 the other day, but forgot we have several days that have double performances. Wow...it's a long run!)

This morning I have one eyelid that is pretty puffy from the make-up removers and stuff. I got some in my eye last night and ended up going to bed with a cold compress on my eyes so they'd stop watering and hopefully not swell. Right about now I'm thinking of going back to bed for a bit this morning, then I have to go weigh in at Jenny Craig (I'm still loosing!) so I can come home and start the transformation process again. If I can get my video camera charted and set up in a good spot I'll try to take some still shots of the process.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Virginia!


Several weeks ago I received an email from my friend Sue. She was the director of "Seussical". Remember the play that my dogs were in last year? Dudley and Zurri shared the role of "Max", the Grinch's dog.

Anyway, Sue emailed to see if I had a dog for her upcoming production of "Yes, Virginia, There Is A Santa Clause". Only she wanted a small dog. The script calls for a cat, but cat's don't do live theater very well! We decided to give Roman a try, and so far, he's been working out great.

Roman is my red Miniature Poodle, who happens to be quite scruffy looking right now, since he's supposed to be playing the part of a stray dog. There was one character in the original movie that is not included in the play, and Sue decided that character, "The Veggie Lady" (I don't know if that's what she's really called, or if it's just what we call her." ) needed to be part of the play, and that I should play her.

The Veggie lady is mean, wicked person who is only on stage for about 2 minutes, with a total of 6 lines. While managing the dog for the performance this is about as much a role as I can handle.

If you've never done live theater before, it's quite a time commitment. Because I was only doing the dog handling, and he didn't have lines to remember, AND I just started the veggie lady last week, I've only been to less than half the rehearsals. Normally its 4-5 nights per week, plus Saturdays. However, the last 2 weeks are even more rigorous! This week we're rehearsing every single night, all day Saturday and Sunday.

Next week is Tech weeks. That's where all the technical stuff like lights, sound, music, etc is all ironed out in preparation for opening night. Problems with costumes are fixed, make-up is perfected, and props are put in place. Monday those few who've never done theater before will learn to put on stage make-up. Tuesday is our first FULL dress rehearsal, with a repeat on Wednesday. Thursday is a dress rehearsal, but we're open to friends and family.

THE night...opening night, is Friday the 21st. We have 19 performances between Nov. 21 and Dec. 21. Most are Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays, with a few Thursday performances thrown in there too. It's a long haul, and can only be done with the support of family members who aren't in the play to keep the ship at home afloat. For parents, it's arduous, trying to get kids back and forth. For adults in the play who have kids...well...lets just say it gets sticky!

I absolutely LOVE doing theater. My favorite is musicals, because the energy that comes from the cast just does something to you. It's kind of like an adrenaline rush, and is rather addictive. I know some people who do play, after play, after play, and others who are starting rehearsals for a new play while they're PERFORMING in another! (ok, clearly they don't have little kids at home!) Someday I might be able to do that. For now, it's one play at a time, and really one play PER YEAR for me! Ok, maybe two...or...

How Did I Miss the Signs?

Oh man, I came home from play rehearsal tonight feeling like a HEEL!!! (for more about the play, see the next post.)

During the closing scene, there is freeze scene. That means the entire cast is frozen so the audience eyes will move to the very last event....and then the lights go down.

During the freeze scene, I'm in a group with one other woman and 5 or 6 kids. We're kind of huddled in a group talking, then the music change is our cue to freeze. There is one young man...I think he's about 10 or so...who just cannot do it. I'll call him Jack. Jack can't freeze. Jack can't stop wiggling. I talked to him a couple times about what "freeze" means, and that no matter what, he's not supposed to look at what's happening on the other part of the stage. The kid is 10, he should be able to do this. Instead it's like he can't NOT look.

How stupid I am.

Tonight at rehearsal I was sitting backstage with Roman (one of my dogs who was also in the play), sitting in the silence that is the world of "backstage", when I heard this high-pitched squeaking noise. Just one sqeak. Quick. Quiet. Stifled sounding. I doubt anyone else would have heard it, but I recognized it for what it was instantly.

 I wasn't sure where the squeak came from. There was one adult cast member sitting near me, and in the corner about 10 ft away sat Jack. The second I saw Jack, I knew I was right, but I watched him a minute to be sure. As he sat in the semi-darkness with his eyes focused on something in his hand, it was clear as a bell. The eyebrows moving, the grimace, his leg jerking just slightly, him clenching his lips together. It was all very subtle, so much so that nobody else would have seen it, bit it was oh-so-familiar to me.

Within 10 seconds of watching I was 100% sure of what I saw. I knew it without a doubt, and instantly I felt horrible. Not because I knew, but because I was so wrong on stage! And, I knew that since it was so apparent, Jack would know exactly what I was talking about.

I crossed the room and sat in the chair next to him. "Do you mind if I ask you a question?"
"Sure" he said.

"Have you ever heard of something called Tourette Syndrome?"

His eyes got very big, and he looked at me and said, "I HAVE Tourettes!"

"Yes, I know. I could tell. But don't worry...other people wouldn't be able to tell. I can tell because my son has Tourette Syndrome, and...if you watch my face really close, you might see some of my tics as well. I don't have Tourettes, but I have a tic disorder that's very similar to it."

Jack was very quiet. I could tell he wasn't sure if I was for real or not. I asked him, "What's the one tic that bugs you the most?"

"I have this high pitched squeak. I can't hide it, and it comes out whenever it's really quiet."

Poor kid. Backstage has got to be hell for him. But man, I give him credit! He's taken what could be the most difficult situation in the world for a person with TS, and embraced it. "My son had a squeal, only his was REALLY loud, and the more excited he got, the more he did it."

An hour passed. Time for the closing scene. I kept my eye on Jack, not because I wanted to make him stand still, but because I wanted to watch him through new eyes. Finally I saw what he did to cope. There is one boy who ALWAYS stands right next to Jack on stage. They must be very good friends, and he must know about Jack. During the freeze scene, Jack had his hand on the other boy's elbow, and was rhythmically squeezing it in a way nobody else could see. The other boy gave no reaction. This squeezing is a way for Jack to release the tic that's trying to escape from him in a way that is less visible. He still had trouble standing still, but knowing what I know now, I'm so incredibly impressed. He did an AMAZING job!!! After the scene the other adult we stand with started to say something to him. I caught her eye, and gave her a look that said, "don't...not now..." Later backstage I told her, "Don't worry. He's NOT able to stand still...he's as still as he can be. He's doing GREAT!" I didn't want to tell her about Jack, because it's really not my place to do so if it's something he's keeping a secret.

For all the Jack's out there, who might be reading. If ever someone gives you a hard time because you're ticking, but they don't know that, try your hardest to not be afraid to tell them. Remember, with knowledge comes compassion and understanding.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Angela has a blog!

Awhile ago I started a blog for Angela, hoping to get her excited about writing. Yeah, didn't work so good. Well, now she's FINALLY developed an interest in her Clicker 5 program, and loves to write something, then tell me to "Have a look!"

So, I'm going to start posting them on her blog, in the hopes that reader comments (hint) will encourage her to write more!

Here's a link to "It's MY life Mom!"

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Question of the day

Tricia asked: First, how is Angela feeling? Second, as a mom to a one year old with Down syndrome, I would like to know what kind of advice would you give? Angela just amazes me at everything she has accomplished. She's such a beautiful young lady, and an amazing athelete. You seem to have so much knowledge, and I enjoy reading and learning from your blog and posts at downsyn... so now, can you teach me more?

Thanks for Asking how Angela is doing. She was able to go back to school today, and since I didn't hear anything I'm assuming everything went just fine. She came home talking about the masks they're making in Art class. (remember Art? The class she HATED last year?) Tonight Dean was asking her questions about it, when she finally said, in an exasperated voice, "Dean, you'll see it tomorrow when I bring it home!" I guess she's getting back to her old self. LOL

The best advice I can give you is to never ever let anyone tell you your child can't do something. You, as the mother, know your child better than anyone. Trust your gut. Remember too that sometimes learning comes from failure. You have to allow your child to fall sometimes in order for them to succeed. This has been the hardest part for me to get school staff to see sometimes. That she will learn from peer pressure, she will learn from her mistakes (hopefully. LOL) BUT, that said, don't be afraid to advocate for your child when you know more is being asked of him than you know he's capable of. Setting a child up for failure isn't a good thing either. Parenting a child with Down Syndrome, or any other disability, is a very delicate and difficult to learn dance. But the end result will astound you.

By far the most difficult things for me to deal with while parenting Angela has been her behavioral challenges. There is no one technique that works with every kid, and many times over the years Angela's behavior has stumped even the behavior specialists. It's also the area I've had to do the most advocating for her. Both in the positive and negative. Sometimes, in order for Angela to have a positive experience in a situation, I've had to be very blunt about what COULD happen if people don't paying attention, while at the same time telling them "No, really, she can DO this!!! Just give her the chance!"

Somewhere on my blog is a post I made about a year ago. Someone asked me about keeping Angela involved in activities. When my boys were younger, I let them try whatever they wanted to try, even if I had to drive a long way to do it. (hey, where we used to live just going to the grocery store was 30 minutes one way.) If they didn't like something that was fine, but they had to finish out the season. Then they just didn't sign up for that thing again next time around. With Angela, I try to find things that I KNOW will interest her. Acting is right up her ally, since she spends so much time re-enacting all the shows she likes to watch, or the events of her day. This is her second year of SOS Players and she loves every minute of it. This is how I approach everything with her. Angela is a kid who DEMANDS independence, and I love getting her involved in these things where she IS independent, and I'm just one of the moms, sitting back and watching instead of hovering.



blogging material

Me...the woman who always has something to say about everything, has run out of things to say! So, I'm going to open the blog up to questions.

Here's the rules. You can ask anything. Most of you already know I'm an open book. LOL Oh, and I will not answer questions asked by anonymous posters.

Monday, November 10, 2008

The Plague has struck our house

Well, Angela is the only one with it, but still! She got sick about a week and a half ago...maybe even two weeks. She didn't have any cold symptoms (as in no runny or stuffed up nose. No water eyes. None of that type of stuff.) all she had was this horrible cough. I brought her into the pediatrician on Monday and we decided to just keep doing nebs as we've been doing. (nebs, for those who are new, refers to nebulizer treatments, which is a mini air compressor that connects to a small chamber w/mask set up, allowing the person to breathe medicated air. This is used for people with asthma, Reactive airway disease (RAD) and other respiratory problems.) And, it was also decided we'd keep her on preventative neb treatments at least once per day for the rest of the winter...which would be about April 1st or so. Doggone it! This adds about 15 minutes to our morning routine. Bummer dude!

So Monday she stayed home, Tues-Friday she went to school, with her HORRIBLE cough unchanging all week. I'd resigned myself to the fact she would have this cough all winter. However, by the time she came home Friday she was REALLY run down, and by late afternoon had DARK circles around her eyes, and at 5:30...you know, after the doctor's office closed for the weekend...she started complaining of hip pain again, and VIOLA, was running a fever. I called the ped. and we put her on meds for a UTI again, as it was the same symptoms she had 6 weeks or so ago when she got REALLY sick with a UTI.

Saturday we had the bowling tournament, and while she was tired, and clearly didn't look very well, she wasn't acting sick. Just the cough. You know, the one I was convinced she'd have all winter. We went from bowling to a baby shower, and from the baby shower to a movie with her buddy Adam. About 1/2 way through the movie she started coughing A LOT and I was sure I'd have to remove her. Usually when she starts coughing like that she also starts wretching. If you're not used to listenting to that awful noise, it sounds like she's going to vomit, which wouldn't have been a very comforting sound for the people sitting in front of her at the theater.

Sunday was bad. She didn't get off the couch all day. She just wanted a pillow and blanket, and dozed off an on. I spent all day debating about bringing her in, but other than the cough and being tired, I didn't have anything else to base my decision on. My gut instinct said she had pneumonia, but the other 1/2 of me said we could hold out till this morning when I could call our regular dr, so that's what I decided to do.

That was, until 1:00 this morning when Angela woke up coughing so bad and couldn't catch her breath. I went into her room and watched her lips and lower part of her cheeks to purple-ish blue while she was coughing. And then the wretching would start because she was bringing up so much "stuff" from her lungs. And then there was the 101* fever to consider. I knew she had pneumonia. However, I hate going to the ER in the middle of the night (through THE WORST neighborhood in all of Minnesota.) only to be told to give her more nebs and call our regular dr. in the morning. No...I needed more symptoms in order to make my decision.

I had no idea where my stethoscope was, so I did my "Lord help my find ......." prayer, and they were in the very next place I looked. (In the dog cabinet from the last time we had puppies and I was trying to hear heartbeats in utero, but I digress. ) I went online and found .wav files of breath sounds, and compared them to what I was hearing in Angela. I was pretty sure I was hearing a crackle in her upper right lung, but I'm not a doctor, so I decided enough was enough, and I was bringing her into the ER.

We got there about 1:30. During triage her oxygen sats were bouncing between 90-92. Within 15 minutes of walking in the door we were seen by the resident. A tiny little chinese girl who looked to be about 12. Angela loved the girl's name. Anyway, she listened to her chest, and did the usual exam stuff, then announced, "Well, her lungs sound great, and her oxygen sats were fine. I'm just going to order an oral steroid to help the nebs a bit and then you can go home."

I was thinking maybe I'd sat with the wrong kid in the triage area. But whatever, at least we were going to get home quickly, something unheard of when visiting the ER at Children's hospital.

About 10 minutes later, as we were waiting for these magic steroids to be delivered, the ATTENDING physician came in. That means she's a real doctor and over sees all the kid doctors who are still in their residency. She asked me, "So, what's different tonight that made you drive all the way over here in the middle of the night?"

I told her, "Well, we were both awake, so I figured we might as well come over. Oh, and the fact she couldn't catch her breath after coughing, and the fact that I just didn't like how she sounded."

She puts her stethoscope on Angela's chest, and the first thing she says is, "Well, these are clear pneumonia sounds on this side. She's crackling. The rest of her sounds ok, but I want a chest xray, and her oxygen sats were on the low side so I really want to see how bad the pneumonia is."

Hmmm...interesting...the little 12 year old doctor said she sounded fine. I guess I should get my medical degree now, because I can compare real breath sounds to those I found on the internet. Tong Wi, on the other hand, needs to take the same course I did.

Poor Angela. I should have brought her into the regular doctor for a chest xray earlier in the week. But I bet if I had it wouldn't have shown anything yet. I think that's the worst part about being a mom. (then add to it being a mom to a kid who's medically fragile. ) is making those judgement calls, deciding the difference between being sick and being really sick. And the difference between "she's really sick I'll have to get her into the doctor tomorrow." and "she's really sick we need to g0 to the ER now." My sense of urgency has been warped by my years of being a mom to kids who got sick all the time, which makes me tend to put off a trip to the ER a little too long.

Oh well. She's on strong antibiotics now. Two of them actually! The one started Friday for her UTI, and a new one for the pneumonia, plus that magic steriod pill. All of that on top of the 5 other meds she takes every day. I knew I should have bought stock in CVS. And now, it's time for me to get some sleep. We got home from the ER at 5:00 a.m, and had a meeting here at 9, and another at 2:30. I've been up for almost 24 hours, and my head is going to land on the keyboard soon!

Saturday, November 08, 2008

Wheres my camera when I need it?

Today was the state Special Olympics bowling tournament, AND...Angela got to bowl! She was able to pull herself together enough to not only make it through two games and the mayhem that is called "getting awards", but she made it through a baby shower too! LOL

Angela was so very excited to be using her brand new ball. You'll never believe how tiny the finger holes are in this thing. The guy who drilled them said they were the smallest holes they make. I can't even get my fingertips into them. LOL

Angela ended up getting 3rd place in her division. If she hadn't fouled FOUR times, she probably would have gotten 1st or 2nd. I tried to explain the foul line to her, but she just gave me the "talk to the hand" sign and walked away. (and she was down in the bowling area where parents aren't allowed to go during tourneys. Little stinker!) So her coach explained it to her, and the very next frame she marched up to the line, and then took a 1/2 step back, and was very careful not to cross it during her celebratory dance either. LOL

I wish I had my camera! Soon though. Soon I'll have a new one and can get back to posting pictures with each post.

Friday, November 07, 2008

Quick Prayers Please!

You may remember back in September when Angela had this mysterious hip pain, which included a high fever. It turned out to be a really bad Urinary Tract Infection. Angela is very susceptable to UTI's, but this was the first time she'd had hip pain, AND this really high fever with it.

Usually when she has a UTI, her first symptoms are bed wetting. Now, most people would think that would be my clue to take the kid in for a Urinalysis. (UA) However, I've learned over the years that if we have it done to early, it comes up clear. And so we wait until there has been two weeks of bedwetting, which means I spend a lot of time laundering bedding!!!

Her next symptom of illness is becoming extremely aggressive. Usually if this happens, within 2 days she'll be in the doctor's office with some kind of illness requiring antibiotics. However, the bedwetting and the aggression don't always go hand in hand.

Well, two or three days ago she started wetting the bed again, but I attributed it to the weird sleep pattern she's now in because she's on prednisone for a respiratory infection. Silly me. A WEEK ago she became really aggressive, but I attributed THAT to the respiratory infection the has which is why she's on the prednisone. So, when she got REALLY aggressive yesterday (I'm talking I the "I wish our windows were plexi-glass and that there was a way to protect the plasma TV" kind of aggression), I thought it was from the prednisone, as irritability is one of the side effects. I know...I know..much easier to see the problem from outside the box, isn't it?

So, this afternoon we went to pick up her new glasses, and we had just stepped across the threshhold of the store when she DEMANDED someone show her where the bathroom is....NOW! So we make our way through the basement of the store, through their storage room, and into this teeny tiny bathroom, where she starts sobbing and says, "Oh mom! My hip hurts!"

If you know Angela well, you know she never cries real tears, and if she does you'd better be calling an ambulance or something! So here she sat, sobbing away, and white as a sheet. Shoot! Shoot! Shoot!!!!

We get home, but now it's 5:30, too late to get her into the doctor's office. I called the answering service and was lucky to find that our ped. is the one on call tonight. She called in an order for an antibiotic. THANK GOODNESS!

So the prayers? Angela has her state Special Olympics bowling tournament tomorrow!! Oh man, she can't miss this! Please pray that the antibiotics kick in quickly. They usually do, but I don't remember them working overnight!

Listen to HIM!

Does this ever happen to you? You're driving along (because I'm almost always driving when this happens) minding your own business, when someone comes to mind who you either haven't thought of in a long time, or you're really surprised THAT person has come to mind. If this happens to you, stop...say a prayer for that person...and ask God, "What? What do you want me to do?"

For whatever reason, that person needs prayer at that moment, and God wants YOU to be the one praying. Don't bother asking why, just do it. But there might be more God wants you to do. Maybe you need to call them. Maybe you know something that person needs to know? At that moment, only God knows what's going on, so just trust him and DO IT!

This happens to me...oh...I'd say about once or twice a year, and it's always someone from some obscure time in my life. Last week it happened to me again. I really felt led to find a person who'd worked with our family several years ago. I knew this she was no longer in the position they'd had with our family, but Google does wonderful things. Within a few minutes I was able to locate her in another state, and send off an email just to verify she was the person I was looking for. In the meantime, I typed up an email and left it in my "drafts" folder, just waiting to be sent.

She contacted me this morning, and I sent off the saved email. I'm so glad I listened to God! I heard back from her within a few hours, confirming that yes...at this time in her life...this was just what she needed. I told her some things that confirmed something for her. Weather in her own life or her professional life is not for me to know. I just know I did what I was supposed to do!

I wish I was at liberty to share her entire reply, but I can't. I will, however, share this one statement (I hope she doesn't mind!): "Your instincts were correct, I needed this letter. It is a gift to restore me. I thank you from my heart! Leah your timing is incredible. Please know you have helped me."

All I can say is, no, my timing has always been pretty crappy. But His? His is PERFECT!




Today's smile maker

Do you ever feel like your kids are making you run in too many directions at once? Go watch this video, then picture the mom and dad in about 2 weeks, when these skills have been perfected!

Thursday, November 06, 2008

It's almost here...winter

It's going to be winter soon. Do you feel it where you are? On Monday it was crazy warm here, 73 degrees which tied some old record. Here in Minnesota, you don't get 73 degree days in November. And what did I do with that warm weather? Well, go for a ride, of course! It was warm, and sunny, with the scents of fall filling my nose as I ran all my errands on Nooner. (formerly known as Red.)

Nooner is my friend who helps me solve the problems in my world. Well, he doesn't do it, but he does bring me closer to HIM, who DOES! Some people go for prayer walks, or hikes. Not me, I go for prayer rides.

I'm so glad I decided to get my own bike, so I don't have to wait for Dean to ride with me. Dean likes to ride, but he doesn't itch for it like I do. On beautiful days when I'm driving around in my Tahoe, I notice every bike on the road, and my stomach twists just a little bit tighter, reminding me that I should be out there too, not trapped in this steel cage that is my truck. Whenever I see them, instinct tells me to give them "the wave", except that if I'm in my truck and I do that they won't understand. So instead I just stare...and try not to drool.

Just like having Angela has lead me to people I never would have met otherwise, the same is true for Nooner. People seem to be fascinated by a woman on a bike. Little kids stare and point. Men look as I go by, with a "I wish my wife would do that.", or the "Now there's a pround woman." kind of look. But the look I like best happens at stop lights. It's from the women who are in their 40's or so. You can see their eyes sayng, "I wish I had the guts to do that!". Ok, I know they're probably REALLY thinking something along the lines of "Ugh! Those things are so annoying! I can't hear my cell phone when they're next to me." But I prefer to think the other way. LOL

So, every warm day that passes is one day closer to snow, and one less day of riding. It makes me hate winter even more than I did before!

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

I Voted, did you?

I am so very glad to be putting this election behind us. It's been miserable, hasn't it? I won't miss the phone calls every evening reminding me not only to vote, but who to vote for and why. I think the calls should be illegal. Does anyone actually listen to the whole call? I had a call from the RNC the other day and the guy accidentally ended his sentence with, "So don't forget to check the democtatic...I mean I mean republican candidates."

Mostly, I'm ready to be done with the mud slinging and arguing. In the past 2 weeks I haven't seen ONE commercial that wasn't a negative ad about the other candidate. No more "vote for me because" ads. No, those were done weeks ago. Instead it's the "don't vote for Joe, because Joe is planning to blow up the world next week!" type of ad. UGH!

Sadly, this election has brought out a side of people I never knew existed. I have some pretty passionate online friends, and I've seen them engage in conversations and arguments (they weren't debates, they were arguments!) that were not only shocking, but made me really question the integrity of some of the people. Clearly they've shown only one side of theirselves all the years I've been talking to them, and this election brought out the side they've had tucked away. I can't say that I've seen one single online debate stay nice and on topic. No, they've all been awful.

Today I went to get my hair cut, and was wearing my "I voted" sticker. The young stylist asked me, "So, who did you vote for?" (She's young remember...early 20's tops.) I told her, "You know, I won't even discuss politics with my husband, but I'll gladly discuss religion with you if you'd like!"

Friday, October 31, 2008

Staying Active

Angela is involved with a lot of different activities. All my kids were. When I had 5 kids in the house, and lived an hour from everything (even the nearest grocery store was 1/2 hr away) I made a point of keeping my kids active. On the weekends and during the summer months, the TV was turned off at 10:00 a.m. The kids didn't usually get up till around 8:30 or 9 anyway, so they didn't get much, and then it couldn't be turned on again until 6:00 pm. But, during the summer the kids were rarely in the house before dark. On school nights the TV couldn't be turned on until after dinner, and then only those who's homework was done could watch it.

All my boys, even the skinny scrawny ones, played football. Some played for only a year, and others played for several. All played baseball for several years too. Tyler was in gymnastics (on a team that was an hour away, since boys teams were VERY difficult to find!) and we traveled all over the 5 state area for meets. I don't know how I managed all this with all the boys, but I did. Their dad never went to games or tournaments, nor did he get to any practices, so I must have been spread pretty thin. LOL

My goal wasn't to keep my kids busy, my goal was to keep them ACTIVE. Yeah, they could go out in the yard and toss a ball around, but we lived way out in the country with only a couple neighbors, and they wanted to play organized sports. I'm all in favor of trying out lots of different things while a kid finds their niche. You never know if you like/dislike something until you give it a try. We always had a rule though, that if they joined a team, they had to play the full season. No quitting 1/2 way through. You joined a team and made a commitment, and now the team is counting on you. No quitting...follow through and then don't sign up again next season!

So, with Angela being the only kid left at home, it seems like a piece of cake to have her involved in stuff. I'm even more determined to keep Angela active than I was my boys. Most people with Down Syndrome have a tendency to put on weight quickly and easily. There are a few who will remain thin and in good shape, but the majority will gain quickly once puberty sets in, and Angela is no exception. It's up to me to keep her active and healthy. I mean, left to her own devices she's sit in front of the TV 24/7, getting up once in awhile to act out the show. If I don't keep her active now, obesity lurks around the corner in her teens.

So what do we do to keep her active?

First, she swims at least 3 times per week, sometimes 5 depending upon how busy our week is. She doesn't always want to go. In fact, she almost always says, "Lets skip it tonight." Unfortunately for her, she doesn't get that option. No, MOM says we're going swimming, so lets go! Sometimes I have to use a lot of humor to get her into the car, and sometimes I have to bribe her, and sometimes it's really a lot of work to get her going, but never ever ever will I give in to the "lets skip it", because if I cave once, it will forever be a problem. (Besides, I don't always feel like working out, and I've caved to myself and look where THAT got me! LOL I don't want Angela to develop the same bad habits.) But once we're in the car, she's all smiles, and she LOVES to swim. When Angela swims, she doesn't just sit in the water. No, her coach has her doing laps either with a kick board or swimming one of the strokes she's working on. Then the last 15 minutes she gets play time. Her coach doesn't charge a penny, and is at the pool 7 days a week. I'm always amazed that this gift is available to us. It takes far more effort on my part than it ever did for my boys, but isn't Angela worth that? Isn't her health worth it? Besides, it's FREE! How often does something like that get handed to you???? I would be doing my kid a disservice by not taking accessing it.

Another activity Angela is in is SOS players, which is a theater group. This is a wonderful social activity for her, and yet at the same time she's learning incredible theatrical skills. She's learning to speak in front of an audience. She's learning to use her imagination (well, she doesn't really need any practice with THAT, but it's definitely an outlet for it. LOL) and she's learning even more independence. All that, for only $50 per YEAR.

Voice lessons is another activity Angela goes to. When I first got her into this, I thought, "Maybe we can teach her to sing?" Really I had NO IDEA how beneficial the voice lessons would be. Angela has a moderate bilateral (meaning both ears) hearing loss, and without her aids misses approximately 40% of everything that is said. Voice lessons are teaching her to LISTEN to what she hears, to moderate her own voice, to control her pitch and volume. It's also another form of speech therapy as we work on annunciation and not leaving out words. She's learning about high notes, and low notes, and her teacher Debbie and I are both learning how Angela processes some things that I never knew! When I first started looking for a voice teacher, I got pretty frustrated at the responses I received. Lots of comments like, "I don't work with kids like that." or just plain no response at all. But Debbie's response was different. She took it as a challenge, and welcomed Angela as a student. She's been very creative in finding music that is with Angela's very limited vocal range, and clearly has a heart for ALL her studends. And, voice lessons are CHEAP..only $15 per week for an incredible form of auditory training and speech therapy. LOL

Next week we'll be adding therapeutic horseback riding. My hope is that this will have an effect on her balance, strength and coordination. It should affect her self confidence as well, but Angela is a pretty confident kid! I don't know if she actually NEEDS help in this area. LOL There is a whole other world of vocabulary, sights, sounds and smells associated with horseback riding, not to mention working on responsibility. She'll be assigned a horse, and will be responsible for making sure the horse is brushed and cared for before she leaves each day. Right now we're looking at twice a week, but who knows if that will change. There are several adaptive horseback riding programs around, and they charge an arm and a leg! This place is only $45 for an hour lesson, or you can buy packages at a discounted rate. (we're very fortunate to be able to put this on Angela's waiver!) And..it's close!

Angela bowls for her special olympics team. During the practice season she bowls twice a week...once with the family and once with the team. During the off season we go a couple times a month as a family. She finally got her own ball this year, which she is thrilled with!

During the spring and summer she does Special Olympics track and field. This is pretty funny to watch because Angela isn't much of a runner, but she sure loves participating in this! For those who really don't run there are walking events too. But, the most important part is that they're having fun and making life-long friends.

So yeah, Angela is a pretty busy kid. She has different friends at each of these activities and loves to go to all of them. (well, except for swimming. She loves the actual swimming, it's the getting there part that she hates. LOL) And really, it's thrilling to see her try hard at everything she does. And, seeing the smile on her face when she accomplishes something on her own...priceless!