Blogging about life and raising our five 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, January 30, 2008

Wordless Wednesday


Roll Call?

I see my counter go up every day, and I'm really curious to know who reads here! (or is the counter just going up from me reading my own blog? LOL) Even if you don't normally comment, or you're just dropping in, I'd love if you would take a moment to participate in my own personal roll call. If you just stumbled in here, how did you find me? If you've been here for awhile, how long have you been here? WHY are you here? Looking forward to hearing from you!

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Dressing for the weather, or the world?


It's a rare morning when I'm up before Angela. She usually beats the sun and the roosters. Today was one of those rare mornings, but I didn't beat her by much...minutes at most. All was quiet in the house as I lay in bed enveloped in my cocoon of blankets, and the giant fluff ball next to me that was Zurri.

And then I heard it. The smallest voice, rehearsing her day, naming all her friends. I got up and stood quietly, motionless, outside her bedroom door. I couldn't see her, so I knew her head was under the blankets. In her quiet croaky morning voice she chanted, "All my friends. Yep, all my friends be there. A party for me. Drew, Monica, Daddy, Desi, Grandma Spring, Mom, Dean, Noah, Tyler, Bryon, Mrs. Hubbard. Yep...all there...for me...my party...It's a fun time my party. Should I wear a dress? No...Should I wear a fancy shoes? No...Stripes. Yep, that's right. I'll wear my stripes. My Florida stripes....my party...all my special people will come."

She got herself up and dressed, then came to find me for some breakfast. "Mom? What I wearing to my party?"

As I envisioned the mountain of striped shirts in her dresser, I answered "I don't know Angela. I hadn't really thought about it. But, since stripes are your favorite I bet that would be a good choice, and certainly one we have many options for."

Time to get dressed for the bus. We're having frigid temperatures here in MN, so every possible piece of outdoor clothing is required. She struggled with her snow pants a bit, the ones that are threatening to fall apart before the end of winter when you can't find them in the stores anymore. She pulled on her boots, then her jacket. She's still not able to zip, so I bent down to help with that. I pulled up the zipper, then tied her scarf around her face. She pulled on her mittens as I slipped her "Cars" backpack over her shoulders. (she won't have anything to do with girly backpacks, no she wanted Spiderman or Cars!)

I opened the door to send the pink puffball out into the biting wind, but at the last second she turned, "You forgot my kiss mom!"and turned to face me with an exaggerated pucker, complete with crusted toothpaste on the corners of her mouth.

As I watched her waddle down our long, steep and icy driveway it occurred to me I wasn't just dressing her for the weather. I was dressing her to protect her against the elements of the world. I did it with all my kids, just as all parents do. But with Angela, there are some things in the world that she's a bit more vulnerable to. So I prepare her for them as best I can, giving her the protective layers to shield her from the bitter cold that the world can sometimes dish out to kids like her. Those who are different from everyone else, who struggle to learn what might come easy to most. I have spent 11 1/2 years praying over her, that the Lord will show her the right way, to the parts of the world that will welcome her, and love her for who she is.

She stands there in the wind, independent of me, well out of my protective reach, singing the songs of girlhood, ready to jump into the world with both feet. Her spirit screams "I'm READY! I can do it!"

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Why do they call them "sleep overs"?

Do kids actually SLEEP at a "sleep over"? Angela certainly didn't. (see my post below about what happens when the kid doesn't sleep.) I wish I could post pictures of Angela and her friend Monica doing their girly stuff last night. But I don't like to post pictures of other people's kids without their parent's permission.

Anyway, they seemed to have a good time. Then Monica went swimming with us this morning and Angela's coach invited her back "Any time you want! We'll work on your strokes!"

It's been MONTHS since Angela has had a sleep over here. I always seem toforget that when there is a friend here, she's OCCUPIED and I don't have to keep her busy. LOL

Mom freaks, Confuses kid and dog

Lessons learned tonight...

So this afternoon we took Angela and Dudley to another match with the Jr. Agility League. You may remember that last weekend was the first time she'd ever done a full course, AND she did a great job! To be honest, I was pretty shocked with how well she did. She had NO problem following the courses, working the dog, etc.

And then comes tonight. I'm going to say right now, it was all my fault. Last night she had a friend sleep over, and who knows how late they actually stayed up, and then Angela woke up at 6:00 this morning, waking her friend up soon after. Then it was swimming at 11:00, home by 12:30 for lunch. I tried to get her to take a nap with me, but she would have nothing of it. Finally I put her in front of a movie, 80% sure she would fall asleep. I even told Dean "If she falls asleep, we're not going." About 20 minutes before we needed to leave I quietly opened her door. There she sat, frozen in front of a tv screen (she doesn't usually have a TV in her room, but we put one in there to watch movies with her friend so we didn't have to give up the big screen. LOL) She was unmoving, and unblinking, and never noticed me open the door. I should have just canceled the plans right there.

As we were getting shoes and stuff on to leave, her mouth got the better of her, but that's not completely unheard of for her.

So we get to agility, and it's a guest judge who set the course. It was a VERY difficult course, and he added 2 or 3 obstacles to it. There were a couple of traps, and a fully circle within a circle. A very difficult course for young kids. But when Angela and I walked the course, she was able to follow it without any problem. Then we brought Dudley out to make sure he would do the weaves and boardwalk for her. Unfortunately I forgot to have her work the tire. Dudley hasn't done the tire in MONTHS.

Of course we were starting with the 20" jumpers. There were two others, but Angela had to go second. She got out there and it just went downhill from there.

Lesson learned: Even though the mom is staying in her chair, and is stuffing her coat in her mouth in an attempt to NOT coach the child, THE DOG FEEDS OFF THE MOTHER!!! Dudley kept looking back to me to see why I was silently freaking out. Angela was flustered and having trouble concentrating, (which causes the dog to be just as confused) and I think it took her 5 minutes to get him through the first obstacle...the tire. The judge was even coaching her. Finally I said, "That's ok..lets just have her do the beginner course."

We watched all the other kids go, then started the beginner course. This was a MUCH easier course, but still, at the admission of the judge, it had a couple spots that were "harder than what you would expect for this level, and a couple extra obstacles, but that's ok..you guys will do fine." During the walk-through, (where they go without the dog to make sure they know the course) Angela was able to run the full course 3 times without any help. She was fine!

Angela's name is called, and out she goes. She wasn't even able to get Dudley facing the right direction, much less get him to go over any obstacles! Finally she started out and I think she though this was like the gambler's course, where you choose your own path. She just started running wherever.

Finally she put her hands over her face and said, "I'm so Fwustwated!!!" I stopped her and said, "Ok Angela. You're done. Bring your dog out."

She was SO SAD! She came out with her lip sticking out and I felt like a total heel for calling her out. The woman who runs it told me to go ahead and run the course with her so she could have a success. And so I did...and they did just fine with me there, kind of lagging behind. When they crossed the finish line Angela jumped up and down "Yes! Yes! I did it! Yes!"

While inside, my heart was a wreck, on a whole lot of different levels. I felt like I'd set her up for failure. Well, really I did. I didn't follow my gut that said keep her home. I put her in front of a group of people and set her up to fail. And then...and then I called her out and embarrassed her. Everyone was incredibly patient, and at one point the judge said, "I don't usually coach the handlers, but I think we can make an exception here huh?" I'm grateful for him for saying that, AND for making the exception, while at the same time, that exception stung like a hot ember. It wasn't the judge doing it that stung, it was the fact that she needed the exception in the first place, and that I'd put her in that position.

When we went to sit back down I could feel my eyes burning and quickly excused myself to the bathroom....quick...before the tears fell.

We came home, and Angela ate dinner and has been asleep since about 6:30, and I expect she'll sleep through the night.

We have some things to work on this week. Angela sending Dudley through the tire, how to set him up in front of the first obstacle, and teaching mom to just relax!

Count Down!

Well, I'm not posting the exact date, but I can tell you we're counting down the days until we leave for Angela's Make A Wish trip! This has really gotten to be an "over the top" kind of thing. And here I thought they "just" sent you on a trip!

Next weekend there will be a pre-wish party for 12 at Angela's favorite restaurant, Applebees. She doesn't know it yet, but we'll be picked up at the house by a fire truck, and I've been told the local fire department has a special gift for her. They will then drive us IN THE FIRE TRUCK to Applebees, where other family and friends will be waiting.

The following week Angela and I are having a girls morning at Spalon Montage
where our fingers, toes, and Angela's hair will be beautified. ( found out about this just a few hours after I'd just had my hair done! LOL) Our wish coordinator remembered reading about Angela wanting a green mohawk, but sadly, her mother won't allow it. LOL So Angela will be getting some foiled colors and a cut. I'm sure she'll be in 7th heaven!

Back to crossing off the days on the calendar!

What???

I am so tired of this word. "What?" We all hear it from our kids at one time or another (multiple times per day) but I hear it from Angela about every 10 minutes because...well..she really can't hear me!

When Angela was 11 months old she was diagnosed with the type of hearing loss that is most common among kids with DS, a moderate, sloping, high frequency, bilateral sensoryneural hearing loss. She was fitted with hearing aids which she barely tollerated, and which we fought over until she was 3. While wearing them she seemed scared to death of any sound she herself made, and would stand in the middle of a room petrified by the world around her. So we ditched 'em, and our happy, chattering Angela came back. That didn't seem right to me, and I knew that Angela's aids were not programmed appropriately for her loss and were providing too much amplification, but the audiologist assured me they were just right. Gee, I worked with hearing aids every day, and never had a seen a kid react like this.

Fast forward to kindergarten when we decided to try the aids again. This time they were tolerated (most of the time anyway) and worked great. In 1st grade we added an FM system (this is where the teacher wears microphone, and her voice is brought directly to the student's ear, eliminating all the background noise.)

Then came that dreaded 2nd grade year, which Angela spent most of in the hospital...without aids. When it was time to start wearing them she refused. It took months for her to keep them on, and she never did at home. Much to the complaint of our insurance company, Angela managed to destroy two pairs of very expensive aids ( about $15,000 worth).

Now she's in 5th grade, and has been consistantly wearing her school aids for 2 years, and tolerating them quite nicely. She reminds teachers to turn the FM system on/off (when they forget to turn it off she gets to hear things she doesn't need to, like toilets flushing, or adult teacher-teacher conversations!). So, we're looking at new aids for home because I'm getting really tired of hearing "What???" all the time, and her speech is getting more difficult to understand. This became particularly evident over Christmas vacation. After 2 1/2 weeks of no school (and no aids) we were having a horrible time understanding her. Then the school audiologist did a re-check, and Angela has lost a tiny bit more hearing. Her assessment included a little note about "hearing aids are strongly recommended for home use."

Ok, ok, I'll call the insurance company again. Gee, so far this year they've paid for two pairs of glasses within 3 weeks, I'm sure they'll love paying for aids again. They have a rule about 1 pair every 5 years, and it's only been 3 since Angela got her last pair, so I doubt they will agree to pay, but there's always that slim chance.

We think that Angela will be more accepting of an open hearing aid. These have only been on the market for a couple of years but were designed for just the type of hearing loss Angela has. The aid itself is much smaller than any she's had before, and the isn't a chunky ear mold. Just a tiny piece that sits inside the ear canal. If the insurance company says yes, I'll only have to hear "what?" about half as often as I do now.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Saying Goodbye to Sasha

You remember me talking about Sasha, and the other children in Easter Europe, right? (They're specifically in the Ukraine)

This month the Cornish family traveled to the Ukraine to unite with the child of their dreams. With Sasha, a little girl with Down Syndrome who has no family and lives out her days in an institution who was made available for adoption last year.

You can read the full story here, but you'll be saddened to hear the news. With all the paperwork in order, and everything ready to go, the only thing left to do was actually MEET this angel child. They arrived at the institution and their social worker and director of the institution argued some. The director didn't feel Sasha should be placed for adoption to a country where she would find nothing but discrimination. (mind you, she's in an institution BECAUSE she has Down Syndrome!) Eventually they were allowed to meet Sasha, and the director said he would think about it overnight.

After spending thousands of dollars in travel, getting a home study done, and all the other gazillions of other things that have to be completed for an international adoption, the director told them he didn't think they could make a connection with Sasha, and no...they cannot adopt her. That her life in that institution (which she is fortunate is one of the better ones) with little 1:1 contact with people, no love, no parents, is better than life with a forever family. With a brother and a sister, school, doctors, L-O-V-E.

The Cornish family will be coming home with empty arms. But their faith is strong. They know they were brought to the Ukraine for a reason, it's just not known to them exactly what that is. Please pray for Sasha, that she will live out her days healthy and her physical needs will be met. Please also say a prayer for the Cornish family. Their hearts are broken, and their arms are empty. You can read the full story here on their blog.

Here is Sasha with her potential father, before they were told they could not bring her home. She certainly doesn't appear afraid, or stressed. She sure looks happy to be getting the attention. Goodbye Sasha.



Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Independence..At 4:30 a.m?

Where are most of you at 4:30 a.m? Are you in bed sleeping? If you're like me, not only are you sleeping but it's probably the best sleep you've gotten all night. For some reason that time of the night (morning) is when I sleep best. Maybe it's because Dean is up and I can move into his warm spot. Maybe it's the big fluffy dog who's joined me. Who knows?

A couple days ago my great sleep was interrupted by Angela in my door, "I'm take a shower now." she said.

WHAT? There is something wrong with this. Not only do I normally have to FIGHT and TRICK her into taking showers, but we certainly don't do it at 4:30 in the morning. Besides, the shower was occupied by Dean. So after a few minutes discussion I convinced her to crawl back into bed....(Please Angela? I'll even let you lay in my bed.")

Fast forward to this morning. Dean and I were up. Once in awhile I'll get up with him because nature calls or something, and he likes when I visit with him while he gets ready for work. (as I gaze outside into the dark and wonder why in the world I'm awake.) While he was taking his shower I came into the office to check some email. Again, I hear "I'm take a shower."

"Oh Angela. Honey, it's still dark outside. C'mon, lets go back to bed where I belong." I had just come back into the office to turn off the computer when Dean said, "The shower is running. Did you really let her get in there?"

YUP...there she was. Man she's fast! Already had shampoo in her hair! And there were clean clothes (matching even!) laying on the bathroom counter. I wasn't allowed to help though, nor help her brush her hair...or dry it. No, I was banished from the bathroom. I was given the palm of her hand and a "NO Mom. I'll do it. Go."

Now it's 5:30 and she's already made her breakfast. :"No Angela, tuna isn't so great this early. How about toast?") Oh it's gonna be a long day. For me, for her, and sadly...for her teachers!

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Angela & Dudley: Agility stars!

Oh, I'm beaming tonight. You'll see more details in the video, but man...this is the first time in well over 6 months that either Dudley or Angela have done any agility. It's the first time EVER that Angela has had to follow a course!

There were 7 or 8 other jr's and their dogs (all but one were older/bigger than her) and all have been doing this for awhile. After each one ran their course, no matter how many problems they had Angela would go give them a pat on the back, and say, "Great job John!" or "Great job Sara!" then she'd pet the dog too, "Great job Sadie!". This is the absolute fastest she can run. The important thing, of course, was that SHE DID IT!!! When everything was all said and done, all the parents and kids vote for the person with the best sportsmanship. Everyone voted for Angela! Here's a video of what she did tonight.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

As if to proove a point

So you know over the weekend I was in that horrible funk. Man, I hate feeling like that! I was on the verge of tears all weekend. There must have been some hormones involved.

Anyway, one of the things I was freaking out about is some assesment results we got back. Angela is developmentally 5-6 years old right now, and as an adult will probably be somewhere around 10-12 years old. After the meeting I was stuck in the mode of thinking about what level of independence Angela will have as an adult. Now, I've raised 4 kids already, so I know what 10-12 year olds are like, but apparently I was having amnesia or something. Many of you provided me with great examples of what your typical kids are doing at that age now, reminding me that that isn't quite so bad.

So yesterday morning I was woken by a "bang" in the kitchen. As I struggled to a conscious state I could hear Angela jabbering away. Many years ago someone taught her to narrate what she's doing. This has been a wonderful tool for me, as she is SO not able to be sneaky when she's narrating. LOL Anyway, here is what I heard...

"Here it is. Peanut butter" (bang of cabinet door) "and da jelly too. Don't forget the jelly. Nope, can't forget that." (bang of fridge door)

"two pieces of bread. One....two. Close it up. No Zurri, no bread for you. Nope, only dog food. No bread for dogs. See Zurri, I put it up high. HA ha!"

(rattling of the silverware drawer) "Heres a knife. See Zurri? Not a blank handle. Nope, black handles are dangruss. Silver handles are safe."

(very quiet here, then lip smacking sounds.) "Oops...forgot...no licking knives. That's not safe. Nope, not safe at all."

"And yogurt. Yep, yogurt in my lunch. Oh, and a spoon. Here's plastic ones. Not metal ones in the lunch, only plastic. See Zurri? Plastic. Can you say Plastic?"

"MOoooooom!!! I'm packing my lunch mom! Mooooooomm! I did it! My lunch is all packed up!"

We have a long ways to go before Angela is moving out on her own. I think we're gonna be ok.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Addiction vs. Addiction

So Dean is trying to quit smoking using the patch method. I have to say, I'm very proud of him. He's been smoking a couple packs every day for 33 years, so I know this is a difficult thing for him to do.

On the weekends, he usually sleeps in until 5:30 a.m. (no really, thats sleeping in for him! Isn't that sad?) goes to the basement for a smoke, and pretty much hangs out down there most of the day. Occasionally he'll play some online games, but mostly he's just downstairs. But now he's not smoking, and he really doesn't WANT to be in the man cave that is associated with smoking.

My routine is to wake up around 8:30, make breakfast for Angela, feed the dogs, then sit down for my morning dose of email and internet. However, this morning when I got up...who should I find sitting at the computer but Dean? This isn't completely unheard of though. The problem was an hour later he was still there....and my fingertips were itching to touch the keyboard. I knew sooner or later he was going to have to pee, or get more coffee or something. Eventually he needed to search for something and needed my help and I was able to scoot into the chair.

I think we're going to have to get a second computer now.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Tough, Emontional Days

First of all, I want to thank everyone for their comments and support regarding the situation with the assault at school. I know that some things are going to come back at us (actually, they already have). The County Attorney's comment about "maybe it's time someone teaches her this isn't ok." is not the only one we've heard.

I wish lots of things for Angela. One of the things I wish is that she "only" had Down Syndrome. If she only had Down Syndrome life would be a bit easier. But that is not the card she (and we) were dealt. Instead she has a brain injury on top of a cognitive disability, which results in some pretty aggressive behavior, with zero impulse control. These things don't happen often, but they do happen. If it weren't for the additional problems we would not be where we are today. We would not have the day to day struggles that we have with her, she would have friends.

If you're reading this, and your child goes to school with my child, I want you to think about something. Please know I'm not asking you to pity Angela. I'm asking you to think about what her life is like from HER eyes. Do you know that Angela has not been invited to a single birthday party in TWO YEARS? Do you know she has NEVER ONCE been invited to an overnight by anyone other than one other child who is also disabled? Do you know that every Monday morning she goes to school and hears the other girls talking about the fun times they've had with sleep-overs during the weekend, and wonders why she's never been invited? Do you know she's has never once been invited to a birthday party by one of her regular ed. peers? Imagine what it feels like to be her. If I were here, I'd be angry and screaming for attention too. Instead she comes home and creates an entire school's worth of invisible imaginary friends, who just happen to be named after all the people in her class. Why? BECAUSE SHE'S LONELY! Imagine being so lonely at 11 years old that you have to create imaginary friends.

Don't get me wrong, I understand that she's the "forgotten one" when it comes to her mainstream peers. She's not in the classroom enough for her to be on the top of the invite list. Every week I hear from parents who tell me "My daughter comes home and talks about Angela all the time. She just ADORES her." while in the back of my mind I'm screaming "SO INVITE HER TO A DAMN BIRTHDAY PARTY!!!! BE A REAL FRIEND!!!!"

And at the same time there is another voice in my head that says, "Why would they want to invite her? They don't know what she's like outside of the classroom. All they remember is the time a year ago when Angela pulled their daughter's hair. They don't hear about the hugs Angela gives their sons and daughters every day. They don't know how Angela idolizes their children. They don't know Angela!!!"

So, tonight I'm crying for my daughter. I just want for her what every mother wants for their daughter, and I can't give it to her. I can't make it happen. I can't protect her from the world, and I can't change what she has. This is something I cannot fix. I think it's the worst feeling I've ever had as a mother.

Friday, January 11, 2008

My child is a criminal

Yes, according the Dakota County Attorney's office, my 11 year old child who is cognitively disabled and has an extensive history of impulsive and aggressive behavior, is a criminal.

Because a staff person at school invaded her personal space (against the specialized training she would have received before working with Angela) that means that Angela assaulted the staff person FIRST, and so that staff person who then in turned slapped Angela across the face will NOT be prosecuted because in Minnesota, an adult can act in "self defense" and strike back against the child. The county could, in fact, turn around and prosecute my child instead. (you better believe all kinds of not so great words came out of my mouth when I was told this.) Oh, and the county attorney's comment was "It wasn't very hard because it didn't leave a mark." HOWEVER...it WAS HEARD on the OTHER SIDE OF THE CLASSROOM!!! So please, do me a favor....strike your own face loud enough to be heard on the other side of a class room and tell me how hard it was. Would you consider it "with force"????

So, should my child do this again, she can be slapped or hit back by any staff member in school building, and that person would NOT get into any trouble!!!!! Would it happen? God I hope not. But the fact that it COULD and there would be ZERO RECOURSE scares the crap out of me. Would it scare YOU?

There are lots of "what-if's" here. For example, WHAT IF this had happened in a closed room without an audience? HOW HARD would Angela have been hit? (the county attorney's answer? "Well, there would have been a mark, then we'd have reason to prosecute.")

WHAT IF this was a non-verbal child in a closed-room situation? (The county attorney's answer? "Well, then it wouldn't have been reported, would it?")

This leaves Angela AND EVERY OTHER DISABLED CHILD WITH AGGRESSIVE TENDENCIES at SIGNIFICANT RISK in future situations. That ONE PERSON who gets the stupid idea of "If someone slapped her back once, I bet she wouldn't do it again." would get away with it!!!!!

My other question is, why does the person who did this go by TWO DIFFERENT NAMES????? She is known at school by one name, but a different name at school. (she has a two-part first name and a hypenated last name. School knows her by one part of the first name and one part of the last name.) I realize lots of people do this, but boy...it sure makes one wonder if something has happened before and she has REASON to go by different names!

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

The Defendant's Name

It has taken me nearly two months to get more information about the assault against Angela that happened at school. Can you believe I STILL don't have a copy of the police report?

Anyway, on November 21st, 2007 Angela was physically assaulted by substitute paraprofessional "L.M.B.S," (full name to be posted later.) (AKA "M.B " (a derivative of her full-name) who later admitted to the act.

I am still waiting to find out weather or not the county attorney intends to prosecute this case. Of course, I still have all kinds of questions. Unfortunately, until I have a copy of the report in my hand, and know the intentions of the Dakota Couny Attorney, there is nothing I can do.

Monday, January 07, 2008

Smater than a 5th grader?

My friend Kathy over at "Adventures in Homakerland" posted this quiz, so I took it. Go see how you do.

You are 100% Smarter than a fifth grader.

You are smarter than a fifth grader. no doubt. There is no need for you to retake school. Keep on doing your brain excersise like sudokus and crossword puzzles, and you'll soon be smarter than a sixth grader! Good work!

are you smarter than a fifth grader?
Quiz Created on GoToQuiz

So what did we get?

Lets see...we drove looked at and drove a Saturn Vue, Jeep Liberty, Toyota Highlander, and Hyundai Sante Fe.

Between space, mileage, crash rating, and price we ended up going with a 2005 Sante Fe under 50K miles. (never ever ever will I buy a brand new vehicle.)

This was a very long day of test driving, since we had Angela along. She was NOT happy to be there! She begged me over and over again to let her stay home alone "and take care of the dogs". Poor kid! The sales guy we ended up buying with was paying particular attention to Angela, and I don't know how many times he ran to get her things, AND cut down every balloon on the show floor to give to her. He was paying too much attention, you know what I mean? So I knew he must know somebody. Turns out his 37 year old sister had DS.

Unfortunately, his comments were loving but very derogatory. I hope my boys never refer to their sister as "rollie pollie but jolly as can be."

So, we're now back to 2 vehicles so I'm not stranded when Dean leaves town a couple nights a week! WHEW!


Friday, January 04, 2008

WHICH ONE????

We have two vehicles. A Ford Windstar van with 210,000 miles on it, and a Chevy Tahoe that has 175,00 (purchased from my dad almost 2 years ago for well under Blue Book. THANKS DAD!) We knew the van was going to die soon, and have been anxiously awaiting tax time to get a something to replace it.

Unfortunately the car god had other plans. When Dean left for work at 5:30 Wednesday morning, in the dark of the early morning he didn't see the HUGE puddle of oil under the van. I kid you not, every drop that was in the engine had to have ended up on the driveway. Dean got a mile down the road when the oil light came on and seconds later the engine seized up. So I dragged Angela out of bed into the frigid -4* air to go pick him up. Dean went back with the Tahoe to clean out the enormous amount of "shtuff" that he had in the van, and to meet the tow truck that would take it to it's final resting place.

So NOW what? Ok...buy a car. Great. There's no way in the world I can get a loan. Dean can but doesn't want to. So we did some calling around, and figured out our financing options (lucky for us, Dean has awesome credit!) Now all that's left is to figure out what to get!

There are only 3 of us living in the house, but there are also 3 big dogs. It's not often I have all 3 dogs with me, but I do need room to have at least one should the need arise. Four wheel drive is a plus (you should see our driveway!) but not an absolute necessity. Mileage is definitely something that needs to be considered as well. I really don't want to drive a wagon again, but the cross-overs are interesting, particularly the Nissan Murano and the Saturn Outlook.

We're also looking at smaller SUV's like the Santa Fe, Vue, and the Pathfinder.

We ran into one Honda Element that Dean really likes. I'm not sold on those yet. I hear they get great mileage, and SUPER if you have dogs and kids, as the floor is rubber so no carpet to get dirty. But I also hear they're not the most comfortable to drive. They're also a manual transmission, which doesn't bother me, but WHERE the shifter is does. It's on the dash instead of at your side. We haven't driven it yet so we'll see how that feels tomorrow.

What I fell in love with was the Jeep Liberty. This is no surprise as myy sister used to have one and I LOVED IT! However, all the used ones I looked up were well out of our price range. Lucky for me, at our last stop we stumbled upon two 2006's with low miles (lease returns) and price tag we both liked. The first one we saw...the one I was drooling on...was black, to which Dean said, "I hate black." I reminded him who would be driving it and washing it. Then as we walked away we spotted the other one which was my favorite color blue. We'll be driving those tomorrow for sure!

Thursday, January 03, 2008

Peace Out!

Angela's favorite Christmas gift this year is her "ticar". She has a very interesting style, mixing all the lyrics of every song she knowns into one medley. The hard part is picking out which songs she's singing! LOL Her speech is usually pretty good, but when she's singing I usually have a hard time understanding her. About 1/2 way through the video she starts doing her toe thing, which always cracks me up. She ends the piece with "Word!". I guess we'll need to add 'ticar" lessons to the mix, huh?

Words

For reasons that will be obvious to some, I'm going to re-post something from a couple of months ago. It's been changed a some, but the message is still the same.
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Most who know me also know that if they use the "R word" around me, or any derivative of it, I'll probably say something about it. I may, or may not, be nice about it, depending upon my mood at that particular moment. Some people I know, even family members, think it's silly for me to be irritated about it. "It's just a word...figure of speech, I don't mean anything by it." I even had one family member call her own son that, while Angela and I stood right there. Still...they think I'm overreacting.

No..I'm not. When you use that word, you're using my child as an insult. You're saying to be like her is a bad thing. That whomever you're calling a "r-d" surely would never want to be like Angela, or any other person who carries a MEDICAL DIAGNOSIS of mental retardation. That, my friends, is some incredibly insensitive thinking.

You wouldn't call people a "n-word", or a "fa**ot", or any other socially unacceptable slang term because you know they're wrong. They are words that can get you fired from a job, or sued for racial verbal harassment. Yet the "r-word" lives on. It's sickening.

Imagine my child walking through school. She will never hear one of her classmates call their friend of color a "nigger, and in her extremely racially diverse school she'll never hear someone call a friend from the middle east a "towel head", but it is EXTREMELY common for her to hear someone walk by and refer to each other as "retard".

Why is this ok? Why is it ok for you to model it for your children and why is ok for your kids to do it at school? Why is it ok to have what my daughter is be the butt of a joke every day of her life.

You may say, "Oh get over it. Grow a thicker skin." But if you're one of the people who use that word, what will you do the first time you hold your own new baby with Down Syndrome? Or your new grandchild, niece or nephew? Or you meet your boyfriends brother with Down Syndrome. Will you still use it anyway, regardless of how hurtful it is? Will you tell your own child "Grow a thicker skin child! You're going to be hearing this your whole life!!!!"

My child doesn't need to grow a thicker skin. She's been through more in her short 11 years than most adults will go through in a lifetime. What she needs is for people to be as respectful of her as they are of those of color or different religions. After all, the only difference between her and you is one tiny chromosome.